Action, Deviance, and Guidance

Abstracta (2):41-59 (2013)
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I argue that we should give up the fight to rescue causal theories of action from fundamental challenges such as the problem of deviant causal chains; and that we should rather pursue an account of action based on the basic intuition that control identifies agency. In Section 1 I introduce causalism about action explanation. In Section 2 I present an alternative, Frankfurt’s idea of guidance. In Section 3 I argue that the problem of deviant causal chains challenges causalism in two important respects: first, it emphasizes that causalism fails to do justice to our basic intuition that control is necessary for agency. Second, it provides countless counterexamples to causalism, which many recent firemen have failed to extinguish – as I argue in some detail. Finally, in Section 4 I argue, contra Al Mele, that control does not require the attribution of psychological states as causes.
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Archival date: 2013-11-23
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