Power and Agency [Book Review]

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E.J. Lowe attempts to meld elements of volitionalism and agent causalism in his recent essay on philosophy of action, Personal Agency. United in the belief that our mental states are inefficacious when it comes to producing volitions, agent causalists disagree over just how to formulate an alternative understanding of mental agency. We exercise self-control so as to appropriate objects of reactive attitudes by being the ultimate sources of our behavior- here they concur. But the precise nature of the relation between agents and the volitions that ensue upon exercises of our will is disputed. Volitionalists, for their part, refuse to countenance talk of substances as causal relata. Only events are effective, they see our mental lives and attendant behavior proceeding without us being in any way involved except, perhaps, as spectators with a rooting interest in their having favorable outcomes, the threat such a nullification would pose to our belief in free will apparently being of less concern to them than the imperative of subsuming all occurrences under natural laws.
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