Freedom and responsibility: An agent -causal view

2003 2003

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Abstract (summary)

In this dissertation, I argue that we ought to accept an agent-causal view of free and responsible action. First, I set the stage for this claim by highlighting our intuitions regarding moral responsibility and freedom, and by ruling out competing positions. I support Harry Frankfurt's claim that responsibility does not require the ability to do otherwise. I go beyond this claim, however, to argue that responsibility requires that one be the true originator of one's action, and that this requires a kind of freedom that is incompatible with determinism. To bolster this last claim, I argue against the compatibilist, “guidance control” view of John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza. I believe the weaknesses of their interesting and compelling view denote potential problems for any compatibilist position. After arguing for incompatibilism, I argue against non-agent-causal incompatibilist views. Specifically, I argue against Robert Kane's “teleological intelligibility theory.”

In the final chapters of my project, I lay out my agent-causal view. I argue that agent-causation is possible and coherent if one accepts a realist view of causes. I appeal to Randolph Clarke's idea that the relation between agent and cause is the same relation as that between event and cause. This serves to alleviate the “mysteriousness” of agent-causation. Having shown that it is possible and coherent, and having ruled out competing views in preceding chapters, I am now in position to claim that agent-causation is the correct view. I also demonstrate that it is a compelling position in its own right because it accords with our most basic understanding of ourselves as agents.

Indexing (details)

0422: Philosophy
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Agent-causal; Clarke, Randolph; Fischer, John Martin; Freedom; John Martin Fischer; Kane, Robert; Mark Ravizza; Randolph Clarke; Ravizza, Mark; Responsibility; Robert Kane
Freedom and responsibility: An agent -causal view
Griffith, Meghan Elizabeth
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 64/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780493997032, 0493997032
Chappell, Vere C.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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