Chapter

The problem of human agency

Erasmus Mayr

in Understanding Human Agency

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606214
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731631 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199606214.003.0002
The problem of human agency

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The first chapter develops the so-called problem of human agency. It is claimed that there are three commitments which are fundamental parts of our self-understanding as human agents: The commitments to agential activity, our place in the natural order, and reasons-explanations of intentional actions. However, when we start to spell out the implications of these commitments, they come into conflict with one another, which raises the question whether our self-understanding as human agents is irremediably flawed. It is argued that each of the standard approaches in contemporary philosophy of action – agent-causalist, naturalist event-causalist, and intentionalist theories – can be seen as a result of the same kind of reaction to this problem, namely of ‘privileging’ one of the three elements at the expense of the others.

Keywords: agential activity; reasons-explanations; natural order; agent-causalism; naturalist event-causalism; intentionalism

Chapter.  9275 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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