Topoi 39 (5):1155-1165 (2020)

Dawa Ometto
Universität Leipzig
Niels van Miltenburg
Utrecht University
In this paper, we investigate how contemporary metaphysics of powers can further an understanding of agent-causal theories of free will. The recent upsurge of such ontologies of powers and the understanding of causation it affords promises to demystify the notion of an agent-causal power. However, as we argue pace, the very ubiquity of powers also poses a challenge to understanding in what sense exercises of an agent’s power to act could still be free—neither determined by external circumstances, nor random, but self-determined. To overcome this challenge, we must understand what distinguishes the power to act from ordinary powers. We suggest this difference lies in its rational nature, and argue that existing agent-causal accounts fail to capture the sense in which the power to act is rational. A proper understanding, we argue, requires us to combine the recent idea that the power to act is a ‘two-way power’ Powers and capacities in philosophy: the new aristotelianism, Routledge, New York, 2013) with the idea that it is intrinsically rational. We sketch the outlines of an original account that promises to do this. On this picture, what distinguishes the power to act is its special generality—the power to act, unlike ordinary powers, does not come with any one typical manifestation. We argue that this special generality can be understood to be a feature of the capacity to reason. Thus, we argue, an account of agent-causation that can further our understanding of free will requires us to recognize a specifically rational or mental variety of power.
Keywords Powers  Agent-causation  Free will  Incompatibilism  Two-way powers
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DOI 10.1007/s11245-018-9615-8
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References found in this work BETA

Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785/2002 - Oxford University Press.
Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
The Significance of Free Will.Robert Kane - 1996 - Oxford University Press USA.
An Essay on Free Will.Peter Van Inwagen - 1983 - Oxford University Press.

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Varieties of Power.Jesse M. Mulder - 2021 - Axiomathes 31 (1):45-61.

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