Agent-Causal Theories of Freedom

Timothy O'Connor

in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will

Second edition

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399691
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Agent-Causal Theories of Freedom


This article provides an overview of recent agent-causal theories, explaining what motivates them to postulate an “ontologically primitive” notion of causation by an agent or substance that is not reducible to ordinary modes of event-causation. It considers different accounts of the agent-causal view which have been defended by libertarians. It also poses the question whether agent-causal theories require a substance dualism of mind and body since they posit a causal relation between an agent and action irreducible to ordinary modes of causation. It argues that agent-causal theories do not necessarily require substance dualism, but may require causal powers and properties that are ontologically emergent.

Keywords: libertarians; causation; substance dualism; causal relation; agent-causal theories

Article.  9795 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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