Causal determinants, reasons, and substantive autonomy: A critical approach to agency

Although the notion of agency presents itself as an attractive solution to the puzzle of free will, it faces a problem vis-a-vis the nature of reasons that are purported to lie behind actions. In this paper I first point out the significance of a paradigm shift that emerges with the agency view. Then I argue that the agency theories nonetheless fail in general to give a satisfactory account of various sorts of reasons underlying our actions and choices. In trying to enlighten the multi-faceted nature of actions and agency, I define a novel concept, "substantive autonomy," and claim that it is a basic fact valid for all animals, not only humans, that are capable of initiating action. Reasons may indeed be lying behind our actions in a non-deterministic and ubiquitous manner but agency often works in the absence of sophisticated (discursive) reasons which are evidently characteristic of humans.


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Çağatay, Hasan; Grünberg, Teo; Department of Philosophy (2012)
Many philosophers tend to defend the view that there is a significant relation between the problem of determinism / indeterminism and the problem of free will. The belief that there exists such a significant relation is supported by our intuitions; however, in this thesis, I defend just the opposite view: free will has no significant dependence on the deterministic or indeterministic character of causal relations. In the same way, I propose that the question, whether or not determinism is true, cannot be an...
Nietzsche on fate and freedom
Beşkardeşler, Sedef; Parkan, Barış; Department of Philosophy (2013)
At face value, Nietzsche’s approach to the problem of free will may seem contradictory since he rejects both free will and determinism. However, a detailed analysis of Nietzsche’s texts will show that, while he uncovers the traditional and psychological background of both the belief in free will and unfree will, he develops his unique understanding of freedom and fate. To state more precisely, Nietzsche repudiates both an understanding of free will which is claimed to be a priorily possessed and also an ide...
Rational choice theory: its merits and limits in explaining and predicting cultural behavior
Kılınç Adanalı, Yurdagül; Turan, Şeref Halil; Department of Philosophy (2016)
The main goal of this dissertation is to examine whether instrumental rationality can predict and explain successfully human behavior in all walks of life. I have chosen Rational Choice Theory and Public Choice Theory as the focus of my investigation, since they are considered as the best models of instrumental rationality in philosophy and social sciences, and in particular in economics and politics. To see their merits and to determine their limits, I have applied Rational Choice Theory and Public Choice ...
Problem of evil and divine providence in Maimonides' philosophy
Budanur, İpek; Ceylan, Yasin; Department of Philosophy (2011)
The evident existence of evil does not appear to be compatible with the traditional theistic view of Divine Justice. On the one hand, in the course of our daily lives we observe that the innocent suffer undeservedly and the wicked prosper abundantly; and on the other we have the religious principle assuring us that God is just. This contradiction which is known as the problem of evil constitutes one of the greatest challenges to theistic religions. Moses Maimonides, the foremost Jewish philosopher of the Mi...
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Is altruism the intuitive behavior in a moral dilemma? Or is selfishness the spontaneous behavior? To answer this question, a dictator game was played in which measures of response time and heart rates were taken with treatments that slightly differ only in the cost associated with the choice of a selfish responding. We find that neither altruism nor egoism is an intuitive process for everyone; rather, altruism is intuitive for altruistic subjects while egoism is intuitive for selfish subjects so that when ...
Citation Formats
M. M. Baç, “Causal determinants, reasons, and substantive autonomy: A critical approach to agency,” PROBLEMOS, pp. 135–144, 2007, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: