Causal Determinants, Reasons, and Substantive Autonomy: a Critical Approach to Agency
Murat Baē
Published 2007-01-01


agency, event causation, free will, reasons, substantive autonomy

How to Cite

Baē M. (2007) “Causal Determinants, Reasons, and Substantive Autonomy: a Critical Approach to Agency”, Problemos, 720, pp. 135-144. doi: 10.15388/Problemos.2007.0.2035.


Although the notion of agency presents itself as an attractive solution to the puzzle of free will, it faces a problem vis-ą-vis the nature of reasons that are purported to lie behind actions. In this paper, I first point out the significance of a paradigm shift that emerges with the agency view. Then I argue that the agency theories nonetheless fail in general to give a satisfactory account of various sorts of reasons underlying our actions and choices. In trying to enlighten the multi-faceted nature of actions and agency, I define a novel concept, “substantive autonomy,” and claim that it is a basic fact valid for all animals, not only humans, that are capable of initiating action. Reasons may indeed be lying behind our actions in a non-deterministic and ubiquitous manner, but agency often works in the absence of sophisticated (discursive) reasons which are evidently characteristic of humans. 


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