What is the relation between small-scale collaborative plans and the execution of those plans within interactive contexts? I argue here that joint attention has a key role in explaining how shared plans and shared intentions are executed in interactive contexts. Within singular action, attention plays the functional role of enabling intentional action to be guided by a prior intention. Within interactive joint action, it is joint attention, I argue, that plays a similar functional role of enabling the agents to act in a collaborative way such that their actions are rationally guided by a prior shared intention. This understanding of joint attention – as having a key functional role of enabling the rational guidance of joint intentional action by a prior shared intention – allows for an alternative understanding of the kind of minimal cooperation that infants can engage in. On this understanding, infants’ capacity to engage in joint actions is already an incipient capacity to engage in rational and intentional joint actions, albeit a capacity that is necessarily scaffolded by an adult rational co-partner.
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