Agent Causation and Compatibilism Reconsidered The Evolutionary and Developmental Emergence of Self-Determining Persons

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Abstract:

The central argument of this paper is that compatibilist theories that understand human agent causation as self-determination are consistent with, and can accommodate, important insights from evolutionary and developmental psychology. Agent causation is nothing more than the non-mysterious self-determining capability of persons, understood as embodied, emergent ontological entities whose nature is not fixed due to their uniquely evolved and developed capabilities of language use, cultural construction, self-consciousness and self-understanding, and moral concern. Relevant arguments of Dennett (2003) and Searle (2001; 2007) are adapted to fit within the author's own emergentist, developmental theorizing that treats the self-determining capability of persons as arising within relevant biophysical and sociocultural contexts without being reducible to these contexts. Persons are self-determining in ways that require explanation not only in terms of materialistic efficient causal explanations appropriate to our evolved biophysical nature, but also in terms of final purposive explanations appropriate to our emergence as culture- capable, self-reflective agents, and formal explanations consistent with our evolved and developed nature as particular bio-cultural hybrids

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Burnaby Mountain Endowed Professor of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, Canada V5A 1S6

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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