Article

Freedom and action without causation: Noncausal theories of freedom and purposive agency

Thomas Pink

in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will

Second edition

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399691
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195399691.003.0017

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Freedom and action without causation: Noncausal theories of freedom and purposive agency

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This article discusses and defends a noncausalist approach to libertarian free agency. It begins with a brief history of accounts of action and purposiveness in the Aristotelian tradition and late medieval philosophy. The traditional picture of action, the article argues, was radically transformed in modern action theory, beginning with Hobbes. All actions came to be viewed as motivated and caused by prior pro-attitudes (e.g., wants or desires) of the will and the special nature of actions of the will itself (i.e., decisions) was lost. Because decisions, like other actions, had to be caused by prior events, Hobbes opened the door for modern determinist and compatibilist accounts of action and free will. The rest of the article develops a noncausalist account of free agency that retrieves the insights of pre-Hobbesian medieval action theory, according to which decisions of the will are explained in terms of the purposes of agents.

Keywords: libertarian free agency; Aristotle; action theory; Hobbes; noncausalist

Article.  9016 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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