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TRAMES. A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 1736-7514 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-0922 (Print)
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Full article in PDF format | doi: 10.3176/tr.2009.2.05

Olli Koistinen


In this paper, Fred Dretske’s component theory of action is evaluated. Dretske claims that in his theory reasons are parts or components of action. Thus, reasons do not cause actions because a part cannot cause the whole whose part it is. According to Dretske, this helps in eliminating a problem in compatibilism. Suppose reasons are causes of actions. Now, if X gives Y a reason from which she acts, then X also causes Y’s action. But it is rather absurd to hold that by giving other persons reasons for acting, we also limit their autonomy. The view defended in this paper is that also in causal component analyses of action, reasons are causes of actions. Thus, Dretske’s defence of compatibilism from this problem is not successful.


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