For accounts and defenses of temporal parts ontology, see David Lewis (1986b)
and Mark Heller (1990). The view is criticized by Peter van Inwagen (1990b).
Richard Swinburne (1986) may be advocating agent causation with his notion of
active “purposings, ” although he is not explicit on this point. Purposings are likened to
volitions in some other accounts, though Swinburne emphasizes that purposings (1) may
merely consist in allowing certain actions to occur, rather than consciously choosing
them and (2) are intrinsically active and have content that points to the result sought.
But these claims are accepted, for example, by Hugh McCann (1998)—discussed in
Clarke's contribution to this volume—and McCann is not an agent causationist. Swinburne is also a dualist, but like Chisholm, his motivations concern problems with identity over time rather than reasons specific to freedom of action.
In correspondence, Peter Unger has advanced this argument in favor of substance dualism over softer varieties. He discusses this matter in Unger (forthcoming).
Jennifer Trusted (1984) appears to defend an agent-causal account of human
agency, the capacity for which emerges from event-causal physical activity. But I am not
at all confident in interpreting her final view, developed over the course of a wideranging discussion, much of which exposits the views of others.
William Rowe (1991), in interpreting Thomas Reid's view, speaks of an agent's
“exerting active power. ” But he wishes to contrast this with an allegedly mysterious
view on which there is an “irreducible relation” between the agent and his act of willing, a view he sees in Chisholm and Taylor (see pp. 156–57). I myself am unclear on
what an exertion of active power is, if it does not consist precisely of an event in
which an agent causes some event, and this is how I understand Reid himself. Perhaps
all that Rowe's remarks on this point amount to is an insistence that an agent's exerting
active power is something he does, a point on which Rowe may find Chisholm and Taylor to be unclear. If this is correct, then my earlier (1994) understanding of Rowe's account, on which Reid is read as a noncausal theorist of the sort discussed in Clarke's
contribution to this volume (ch. 16), is mistaken and the consequent criticisms misplaced.
John Thorp (1980: 102) writes: “Now presumably we shall want to say that the
agent's causing the event is also an event. We seem then to have two events, the decision
which is an alteration in the agent, and the agent's causing that alteration. At once
there looms a vicious regress. It can be forestalled only by saying that these apparently
two events, the decision and the agent's causing the decision to itself, are in fact one
and the same…. We do not require that an event be the same as its cause, but that
an event be the same event as its being caused. ” It is not clear to me from the wider
text whether this is a (misleading) way of saying that an agent's causing an event is not
itself an event or whether he is effectively reducing agent causation to simple indeterminism.
Indeed, he held the puzzling thesis that there might be completely independent
purposive and causal explanations for the very same action (1966: 144).
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The Oxford Handbook of Free Will.
Contributors: Robert Kane - Editor.
Publisher: Oxford University Press.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 2003.
Page number: 355.
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