Are We Agents at All? Helen Steward's Agency Incompatibilism

Neil Levy
Oxford University
ABSTRACT In A Metaphysics for Freedom and related papers, Helen Steward advances a new argument for incompatibilism. Though she concedes that the luck objection is persuasive with regard to existing versions of libertarianism, she claims that agency itself is incompatible with determinism: we are only agents at all if we are able to settle matters concerning our movements, where settling something requires that prior to our settling it lacked sufficient conditions. She argues that genuine agents settle very fine-grained aspects of their movements: when and how they move, even when and how their neurons fire. In this paper, I advance two linked arguments against agency incompatibilism. I argue, first, that we do not exercise direct control over the fine-grained aspects of our movements. Rather, we control these movements indirectly, by intentionally engaging in broadly individuated action types. Second, I argue that these aspects of our movements are lucky for us and, since this is true, they cannot play the role of grounding our agency.
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DOI 10.1080/0020174x.2013.776482
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References found in this work BETA

The Significance of Free Will.Robert Kane - 1996 - Oxford University Press USA.
Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829-839.
Do We Have Free Will?Benjamin W. Libet - 1999 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (8-9):47-57.

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