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(2009) Plural action, Dordrecht, Springer.

Rationalizing coordination

Hans Bernhard Schmid

pp. 103-117

The aim of this chapter is twofold. First, the focus is shifted from cooperation (as discussed in the previous chapter) to coordination. The theory of coordination provides another excellent example for the importance of the analysis of collective intentionality to the social sciences in general and economic theory in particular. In contrast to the last chapter, the issue at stake here is purely theoretic (§20 below). Coordination problems differ from cooperation problems in that, intuitively speaking, rational participants aim at "matching" their individual choices among the available alternatives, so that there is no incentive for unilateral defection. Whereas the structure of cooperation (as exemplified by the prisoner's dilemma) has been at the very center of much thorough philosophical analysis — as well as of experimental work in economics — over the last half-century, the structure of coordination has not received nearly as much attention. One reason for this is that in most real-life cases coordination problems are easily solved by means of conventions. But coordination is a problem for orthodox rational choice theory. In line with some recent literature on the topic, I will argue that, because of its individualistic limitations, the standard economic model of human behavior fails to explain how conventions make coordination among rational agents possible.In the second part of the chapter (§§21–22), it is argued that even though the existing accounts of collective intentionality point the way towards an adequate account of coordination, a stronger conception of collective intentionality than the ones to be found in the existing literature is needed. In a discussion of Robert Sugden's theory of team thinking, some features of an adequate account of collective intentionality are introduced.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-2437-4_6

Full citation:

Schmid, H.B. (2009)., Rationalizing coordination, in H. B. Schmid, Plural action, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 103-117.

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