By Fred Vollmer (auth.)
We act for purposes. yet, it truly is occasionally claimed, the psychological states and occasions that make up purposes, aren't enough stipulations of activities. purposes by no means make activities take place. We- as brokers (persons, selves, topics) - make our activities take place. activities are performed by means of us, now not elicited by way of purposes. the current essay is an try and comprehend this idea of agent causality. Who -~ or what - is an agent ? and the way - in advantage of what - does an agent do issues, or chorus from doing them? the 1st bankruptcy bargains with difficulties within the idea of motion that appear to require the idea that activities are managed through brokers. Chapters and 3 then evaluation and speak about theories of agent cau sality. Chapters 4 and 5 make up the primary elements of the essay during which my very own resolution is positioned forth, and bankruptcy six offers a few information that appear to aid this view. bankruptcy seven discusses how the idea might be reconciled with neuro-physiological proof. And within the final chapters the idea is faced with conflicting viewpoints and phe nomena. Daniel Robinson and Richard Swinburne took time to learn elements of the manuscript in draft shape. although they disagree with my major viewpoints at the nature of the self, their conunents have been very priceless. I hereby thank them both.
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Additional info for Agent Causality
We may say that the hand was moved by the man, but we may also say that the motion of the hand was caused by the motion of certain THEORIES OF AGENT CAUSALITY 29 muscles; and we may say that the motion of the muscles was caused by certain events that took place within the brain. l8)". How, then, do I make events in my brain happen? As Chisholm says, I may not even know that I have a brain. Chisholm's thesis is that whenever I perform an intentional action like raising my arm, I endeavor or undertake to make it happen that my arm goes up, and in undertaking this I directly (but normally unknowingly) make certain things happen in my brain, that then cause my arm to go up.
A person is responsible for an activity only if his desires and beliefs contribute causally to the happening of the activity. Well then why shouldn't he be responsible for an activity that is causally determined by his mental states - an activity to which his mental states contribute causally by being sufficient conditions? Chisholm doesn't discuss this problem, but I strongly suspect on the basis of what he writes that he regards persons as responsible for their undertakings not only because these undertakings are non-random, but also because they are undetermined.
Actions are also, according to Greenwood, normally (but not invariably) generated by agents for the sake of reasons. And, "if many actions are products of agency for the sake of reasons they will be predictable to a very high degree. 98)". Still, "the fact that my actions can be regularly predicted ... 97)". Assuming that actions are generated by agents, that exercising powers are within the control of agents, that agents can act or refrain from acting, does not, then, according to Greenwood, place actions outside the realm of science.