2008 EPS Papers (Carey)

November 20, 2008
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Jeremy Carey

Agent Causation, Reasons, and Empirical Data

Abstract: In this paper, I attempt to defend agent-causation from some empirical objections that have recently been brought against it. It has been recently argued by Derk Pereboom (Living Without Free Will), for example, that an agent-causal view cannot fit in, so to speak, with our best scientific theories for two reasons: First, it would seem to commit us either to the ability of agents to somehow supersede the microlevel laws governing their bodies or else to the fundamental incompleteness of those laws. Secondly, if agents are not constrained by those laws, in a deterministic or probabilistic way, then we should expect actions to be more random and unpredictable than they in fact are. I argue that both of these objections can be met by setting forth an agent-causal view that is realist about causation and integrated with respect to reasons.