Hume and the Metaphysics of Agency

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I examine Hume’s ‘construal of the basic structure of human agency’ and his ‘analysis of human agency’ as they arise in his investigation of causal power. Hume’s construal holds both that volition is separable from action and that the causal mechanism of voluntary action is incomprehensible. Hume’s analysis argues, on the basis of these two claims, that we cannot draw the concept of causal power from human agency. Some commentators suggest that Hume’s construal of human agency is untenable, unduly skeptical, or uniquely entailed by the limits of empiricism. However, as I argue, these criticisms depend either on a misunderstanding of Hume’s analysis of human agency or on a neglect of the historical context of his view.
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First archival date: 2015-11-21
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Agency and Alienation.Hornsby, Jennifer

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