Finding Free Will: Causation in an Indeterministic World

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2020-05

Authors

Hebner, Thomas

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Abstract

Free will is an oft disputed topic in popular culture, religion, and philosophy, yet much of its refutations are built upon theories of determinism and necessitation, whose conclusions are untenable. Any discussion of free will is necessarily a discussion of cause and effect, so any claims made about freedom must first establish what it is to be a free agent. This thesis challenges deterministic causation, showing that even classical Newtonian mechanics gives us indeterminate solutions. In doing this, we show that causation itself is a fundamental truth, built from an ontology of causal powers, the implications of which we explore in detail. From this metaphysical framework we explore a plausible route by which free will may emerge: the theory of Agent Causation, which argues that at the core of every free action is an irreducible causal relation between a person and some appropriate mental or internal event that triggers later elements of the action. Agent Causation will be shown to be a theory of causal powers implied by our ontology, with responsibility and agency thereby emerging.

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