Causation, Action, and Free Will

Alfred R. Mele

in The Oxford Handbook of Causation

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199279739
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191577246 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Causation, Action, and Free Will

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  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Mind


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Many issues at the heart of the philosophy of action and of philosophical work on free will are framed partly in terms of causation. The leading approach to understanding both the nature of action and the explanation or production of actions emphasizes causation. What may be termed standardcausalism is the conjunction of the following two theses: firstly, an event's being an action depends on how it was caused; and secondly, proper explanations of actions are causal explanations. Important questions debated in the literature on free will include: is an action's being deterministically caused incompatible with its being freely performed? Are actions free only if they are indeterministically caused? Does the indeterministic causation of an action preclude its being freely performed? Does free action require agent causation? This article concentrates on issues about action and free will that centrally involve causation.

Keywords: causation; action; free will; standard causalism; indeterministic causation; causal explanations

Article.  10607 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics ; Philosophy of Mind

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