Agent Causality by Fred Vollmer (auth.)

By Fred Vollmer (auth.)

We act for purposes. yet, it really is occasionally claimed, the psychological states and occasions that make up purposes, usually are not adequate stipulations of activities. purposes by no means make activities occur. We- as brokers (persons, selves, topics) - make our activities ensue. activities are performed by way of us, no longer elicited via purposes. the current essay is an try and comprehend this idea of agent causality. Who -~ or what - is an agent ? and the way - in advantage of what - does an agent do issues, or chorus from doing them? the 1st bankruptcy bargains with difficulties within the concept of motion that appear to require the belief that activities are managed via brokers. Chapters and 3 then overview and speak about theories of agent cau­ sality. Chapters 4 and 5 make up the critical elements of the essay within which my very own answer is placed forth, and bankruptcy six provides a few information that appear to help this view. bankruptcy seven discusses how the speculation could be reconciled with neuro-physiological evidence. And within the final chapters the speculation is faced with conflicting viewpoints and phe­ nomena. Daniel Robinson and Richard Swinburne took time to learn elements of the manuscript in draft shape. even though they disagree with my major viewpoints at the nature of the self, their conunents have been very worthy. I hereby thank them both.

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37)", namely that sometimes what I do is up to me. 42)". g. forcibly bending my finger in a certain direction). That some of my actions are free, in the sense of being neither blocked nor set in motion by external forces, need not mean, however, that they are not causally determined. 43)". In which case actions can both be causally determined and free. 44)". 44 )". The question then arises, if a bodily movement of mine is neither blocked nor set in motion by external causes, but caused by one of my 25 26 CHAPTER3 own inner states, and this inner state, in tum, is causally determined by some other state inside or outside me, is the bodily movement a free action, something it is up to me to do?

It does not follow, however, that saying that agents cause actions (which is a general proposition about the nature of actions) is unenlightening or meaningless. Agents do not ordinarily produce movements in a completely random manner. Usually they act for reasons. And if Greenwood is right, this implies that their actions are predictable and that there may be lawful relations between reasons and actions. To claim that actions originate in agents, however, is to hold that reasons never make up sufficient conditions of actions, conditions that necessitate the happenings of actions.

224)". According to Mackie (1976) and Nagel (1986) too, the assumption that psychological continuity is made possible by the existence of an immaterial subject, lacks empirical support. What in fact makes psychological continuity possible, the latter authors agree, is the brain. But, whereas Mackie and Nagel also regard continued existence of the brain as a necessary (essential) condition of psychological continuity and personal identity, Nagel claiming that "I" really refers to my brain, PERSONS 53 Parfit denies this and asserts that continued existence of the same brain and body is not a necessary condition of personal survival.

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