How Social Maintenance Supports Shared Agency in Humans and Other Animals

Keywords: Joint commitment, shared intentions, social norms, chimpanzees, punishment, nonhuman animals, normativity, animal minds, comparative cognition


Shared intentions supporting cooperation and other social practices are often used to describe human social life but not the social lives of nonhuman animals. This difference in description is supported by a lack of evidence for rebuke or stakeholding during collaboration in nonhuman animals. We suggest that rebuke and stakeholding are just two examples of the many and varied forms of social maintenance that can support shared intentions. Drawing on insights about mindshaping in social cognition, we show how apes can be stakeholders of a different sort in joint action. Drawing on pluralistic social maintenance methods of behavior enforcement, we show ape joint action can be supported by different forms of positive and negative social pressures, and not just protest. We explain how diverse relationships, contexts, social structures, and forms of communication may play a role in forming and successfully fulfilling joint commitments for humans, great apes, and other animals.

How to Cite
Papadopoulos, D., & Andrews, K. (2022). How Social Maintenance Supports Shared Agency in Humans and Other Animals. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 15(42), 205-223. Retrieved from