Agent Causation and Substance Philosophy Study Sections

    In a previous post, I had briefly shown that both determinism and indeterminism were not compatible with the existence of free will. Determinism means that one’s actions are ultimately determined by someone or something else. Indeterminism means one’s actions are a matter of chance. The only way to avoid these two paths is to believe that we cause our own actions. This is called agent causation.

    Agent causation is the idea that the person causes their own choices. This is either obvious and unremarkable or it is confusing. Which way it is understood depends on how causation itself is understood. Due to the philosophical revolution that occurred at the same time as the scientific revolution, causation is now understood much differently than it was before. Before, all causation was understood to involve powers, substances and properties. Since free will is a power that a substance has to performs acts, it was unremarkable that human beings are the cause of their choices. In modern philosophy, causation is understood to be a relationship between events. One event causes another. In that understanding, persons cannot cause anything and agent causation is confusing at best.

    So far I have argued that agent causation is required in order for free will to exist. I have also argued that agent causation makes little sense unless something like Aristotelian philosophy is true. Therefore, free will is much more likely to exist if something like Aristotelian philosophy is true. For this reason, I will not be discussing this element of free will any further.

    There are two other elements of free will that have to be considered. Free will is an action done for reasons. Therefore, reason must be considered. Free will is a power to act, therefore, power must be considered. Once these two things have been discussed, the nature of metaphysical freedom will be understood.

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