ArgLab • Permanent Seminar

Joana Rigato

Agent-causation: Fitting agents and freedom into a natural world

To act is to be the author of a bodily movement. But if a movement is caused by the agent’s mental states or their neural correlates in the same way as an uncontrollable behavior is brought about in cases of chemical imbalances or neural diseases (e.g. addiction, Tourette’s syndrome or utilization behavior), then it should not be considered an action at all. Therefore, agency as such requires agents to be more than the mereological sum of their mental states and events and to be able to cause their actions themselves, rather than to be the mere locus where the causal chain from reasons to intentions and to actions takes place. Such a view is called agent-causalism, a position that has been unjustly discredited as being anti-scientific. I will show that agent-causalism can be grounded in an emergentist view about the conscious self, which does not imply the break of natural supervenience and requires only two conditions of possibility, both of which I contend are scientifically plausible: that the emergence base works indeterministically and that the physical world is not causally closed.