Autonomy and Agent Causation

Part of the Cognition and Language: A Series in Psycholinguistics book series (CALS)


Argument: Agent causation differs from event causation in the feeling of spontaneity and the delay and demarcation between cause and effect. Agent autonomy may depend on a (virtual) duration that spans developing actions. The feeling of spontaneity is related to the precedence of the self, the depth (past) to surface (present) transition, and potentiality prior to actuality. Delay and demarcation reflect state decay and/or revival between intentions and actions. An intentional state is replaced over an intervening series with a final depletion of conceptual content in motility. Agent causation corresponds with persistence in event causation, in that a subject undergoing minimal conceptual shift is construed as causal across the boundaries of an interval.


Mental State Agent Causation Agent Control Event Causation Intentional State 


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    A good discussion of arguments for and against autonomy can be found in P. Van Inwagen, An Essay on Free Will (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1996

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