Collective Intentionality and Autism: Against the Exclusion of the “Social Misfits”

  • Kristina Lekić Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Rijeka
Keywords: Searle, collective intentionality, autism, imitation, cooperation, rule-governed behavior


The paper aims to shed light on Searle’s notion of collective intentionality (CI) as a primitive phenomenon shared by all humans. The latter could be problematic given that there are individuals who are unable to grasp collective intentionality and fully collaborate within the framework of “we-intentionality”. Such is the case of individuals with autism, given that the lack of motivation and skills for sharing psychological states with others is one of the diagnostic criteria for Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The paper will argue that exclusion of individuals with autism is not a threat for Searle’s notion of collective intentionality, as the notion can be read as merely a biological disposition that all human beings share. Furthermore, the paper proposes the extension of Searle’s concept of CI so it can include behaviors of individuals who have the disposition towards CI, but which was not evolved through ontogenesis; namely, for individuals with autism.


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