The Agent as Her Self: How Taking Agency Seriously Leads to Emergent Dualism

Maria Joana Rigato


Abstract: To act is to be the author of an intentional bodily movement. I will show that, in order for that authorship to be assured, the agent must both amount to more than the mereological sum of her mental or neural states and events, and have an irreducible causal power over, at least, some of them. Hence, agent-causalism is the best position for any realist about action to assume. I will contend that, contrary to what many have claimed, agent-causalism is not an unscientific theory, since it can ground its view of the agent on a form of emergent dualism that can account for robust forms of agency without having to challenge the natural supervenience of the mental on the physical. I claim that the conditions of possibility for a causally effective emergent self are the presence of neuronal indeterminism and the break of causal closure, both of which will be shown to be compatible with our current scientific picture of the world.

Keywords: Action; Self; Emergent Dualism; Downward Causation; Indeterminism


Prendere sul serio l’agente: ovvero, come un’attenta analisi dell’agentività ci conduce al dualismo emergentista

Riassunto: Agire vuol dire essere l’autore di un movimento corporeo intenzionale. Intendo mostrare che, per assicurarsi il riconoscimento di essere l’autore di un’azione, l’agente debba essere più della semplice somma mereologica dei propri stati mentali ed eventi neurali e che debba anche avere un irriducibile potere causale su di essi, o al limite su parte di essi. Pertanto, una concezione causale riferita all’agente è la migliore posizione da assumere per chi voglia dirsi realista riguardo alle azioni. Intendo affermare che, diversamente a quanto da molti sostenuto, la concezione causale riferita all’agente non sia una teoria non scientifica, dal momento che può fondare la sua concezione dell’agente su una forma di dualismo emergentista in grado di legittimare forme robuste di agentività senza dover mettere in dubbio la sopravvenienza del mentale sul fisico. Indeterminismo neurale e rottura della chiusura causale saranno indicate come condizioni di possibilità per un sé causalmente ed effettivamente emergente e mostrerò come entrambi siano compatibili con l’immagine scientifica del mondo che oggi abbiamo.

Parole chiave: Azione; Sé; Dualismo emergentista; Causalità rivolta verso il basso; Indeterminismo


Action; Self; Emergent Dualism; Downward Causation; Indeterminism

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