Wie kausal ist menschliches Handeln? Grenzen in der Naturalisierung menschlichen Handelns

Zeitschrift Für Katholische Theologie 133 (3-4):361-381 (2011)
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This article argues that the causal theory of action cannot explain conscious human action adequately. Interpreting actions as bodily movements caused by (mental) states internal to the agent does not do justice to the particular role of the agent herself as ‘performing’ or ‘bringing about’ the action in the light of specific reasons. The only thing one can say about actions being distinct from other bodily movements such as automatic physiological processes or reflexes will employ again the concept of action resp. of the agent doing something consciously. Therefore the thesis is defended that the concept of conscious action resp. human agency is a basic concept referring to the basic capacity of human persons to perform actions consciously. This capacity cannot be reduced to other phenomena within the agent such as mental states and causal mechanisms regulating and guiding human behaviour. If this view of human agency is correct, it sets a limit to attempts of naturalising the human person.

Author's Profile

Georg Gasser
Universität Augsburg


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