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Personal Agency consists of two parts. In Part II, a radically libertarian theory of action is defended which combines aspects of agent causalism and volitionism. This theory accords to volitions the status of basic mental actions, maintaining that these are spontaneous exercises of the will--a 'two-way' power which rational agents can freely exercise in the light of reason. Lowe contends that substances, not events, are the causal source of all change in the world--with rational, free agents like ourselves having a special place in the causal order as unmoved movers, or initiators of new causal chains. And he defends a thoroughgoing externalism regarding reasons for action, holding these to be mind-independent worldly entities rather than the beliefs and desires of agents. Part I prepares the ground for this theory by undermining the threat presented to it by physicalism. It does this by challenging the causal closure argument for physicalism in all of its forms and by showing that a dualistic philosophy of mind--one which holds that human mental states and their subjects cannot be identified with bodily states and human bodies respectively--is both metaphysically coherent and entirely consistent with known empirical facts.
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E. J. Lowe was educated at the Universities of Cambridge (1968-72) and Oxford (1972-5). He has been a member of the Philosophy Department at Durham University since 1980 and a Professor since 1995. He is the author of many books and articles on metaphysics, the philosophy of mind and action, the philosophy of logic and language, and the philosophy of John Locke.
An excellent book which could be recommended to anyone interested in the refutation of physicalism... After a century reigned by logical positivists, post-modernists and the like, Lowe establishes himself at the forefront of the revival of serious a priori metaphysics. * Benedikt Paul Goecke, The Journal of Philosophy. * Refreshingly different... In Part I, Lowe defends a non-Cartesian substance dualism of self and body. In Part II, he presents an account of action that is a hybrid between volitionism and agent causalism... The book is well-argued, clearly written, thought-provoking, and original. Furthermore, Lowe presents a view that is naturalistic (on one important construal of the term) and compatible with contemporary science... an excellent contribution to the literature on mind and action and should be of interest to specialists in both areas. The book is densely packed with arguments, all of which deserve attention. * Meghan Griffith, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews * I enjoyed and admire this book. The author boldly and intelligently takes a fresh look at numerous fundamental issues in philosophy of mind and metaphysics. * Randolph Clarke, Mind * Refreshing... I'm greatly impressed by the depth and breadth of his thinking, and by the clarity of his exposition of intricate topics. * Ingmar Persson, Times Literary Supplement *
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