The Disappearing Agent as an Exclusion Problem

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

The disappearing agent problem is an argument in the metaphysics of agency. Proponents of the agent-causal approach argue that the rival event-causal approach fails to account for the fact that an agent is active. This paper examines an analogy between this disappearing agent problem and the exclusion problem in the metaphysics of mind. I develop the analogy between these two problems and survey existing solutions. I suggest that some solutions that have received significant attention in response to the exclusion problem have seen considerably less attention in response to the disappearing agent problem. For example, one solution to the exclusion problem is to reject the exclusion assumption. Analogously, one solution to the disappearing agent problem could be to deny the claim that the agent-causal approach and the event-causal approach are mutually exclusive. Similarly, proportionality theories of causation, a solution to the exclusion problem, can be transferred to the disappearing agent problem. After establishing the plausibility of the analogy between the two problems, I examine how this latter solution in particular can be transferred from the one problem to the other.

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Johannes Himmelreich
Syracuse University

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