Libertarian Views: Dualist and Agent-Causal Theories

Timothy O'Connor

in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780195178548
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Libertarian Views: Dualist and Agent-Causal Theories


This article surveys recent agent-causal (AC) theories, explaining their motivations through a discussion of mechanism, teleology, and agency. It considers different accounts of the agent-causal relation by, among others, libertarians such as C. A. Campbell, Roderick Chisholm, Richard Taylor, John Thorp, Michael Zimmerman, Richard Swinburne, Godfrey Vesey, Alan Donagan, William Rowe, and Randolph Clarke. It also poses the question whether agent-causal theories require a substance dualism of mind and body—as many philosophers have suspected they must, since they posit a sui generis causal relation between an agent and action that is irreducible to ordinary modes of causation. It is argued that AC theories do not necessarily require substance dualism but may require some sort of strong emergence of mind from matter. Some contemporary dualist accounts of free agency in the light are also discussed.

Keywords: libertarianism; human agency; causation; dualism; free agency; mechanism; teleology

Article.  8998 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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