Agent-causation and agential control

Philosophical Explorations 11 (1):3-21 (2008)
Markus E. Schlosser
University College Dublin
According to what I call the reductive standard-causal theory of agency, the exercise of an agent's power to act can be reduced to the causal efficacy of agent-involving mental states and events. According to a non-reductive agent-causal theory, an agent's power to act is irreducible and primitive. Agent-causal theories have been dismissed on the ground that they presuppose a very contentious notion of causation, namely substance-causation. In this paper I will assume, with the proponents of the agent-causal approach, that substance-causation is possible, as I will argue against that theory on the ground that it fails as a theory of agency. I will argue that the non-reductive agent-causal theory fails to account for agency, because it fails to account for agential control: it cannot explain why the stipulated irreducible relation between the agent and an action constitutes the agent's exercise of control over the action. This objection, I will argue, applies to the agent-causal theory in particular, and to the non-reductive approach in general.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/13869790701750597
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 37,193
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Practical Reality.Jonathan Dancy - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
The Significance of Free Will.Robert Kane - 1996 - Oxford University Press USA.
Intentionality.John Searle - 1983 - Oxford University Press.

View all 31 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Agent Causation as a Solution to the Problem of Action.Michael Brent - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (5):656-673.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Folk Psychology of Free Will: Fits and Starts.Shaun Nichols - 2004 - Mind and Language 19 (5):473-502.
God, Freedom, and Human Agency.Thomas Talbott - 2009 - Faith and Philosophy 26 (4):378-397.
Dualist and Agent-Causal Theories.Timothy O'Connor - 2001 - In Robert H. Kane (ed.), Oxford Handbook on Free Will. Oxford University Press.
Active Control, Agent-Causation and Free Action.Ishtiyaque Haji - 2004 - Philosophical Explorations 7 (2):131-148.
Agent Causation Before and After the Ontological Turn.Daniel von Wachter - 2003 - In Edmund Runggaldier, Christian Kanzian & Josef Quitterer (eds.), Persons: An Interdisciplinary Approach. öbvhpt.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
174 ( #35,139 of 2,309,030 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #292,157 of 2,309,030 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature