Agency, ownership, and the standard theory

In A. Buckareff, J. Aguilar & K. Frankish (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Action. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 13-31 (2010)
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The causal theory of action has been the standard view in the philosophy of action and mind. In this chapter, I will present responses to two challenges to the theory. The first says, basically, that there is no positive argument in favour of the causal theory, as the only reason that supports it consists in the apparent lack of tenable alternatives. The second challenge says that the theory fails to capture the phenomenon of agency, as it reduces activity to mere happenings (events and event-causal processes). This is often referred to as the problem of "disappearing agency". My main aim is to show that there is no problem of disappearing agency, and we will see that my response to the first challenge will be conducive to this end. I will present a positive argument for the causal theory on the basis of considerations concerning the metaphysics of agency, and I will suggest that we "own" the agency that springs from our mental states and events "by default".



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