Anscombe and Intentional Agency Incompatibilism (for human and animal agents)

Mayr E (2022)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2022


Book Volume: 200

Journal Issue: 3

DOI: 10.1007/s11229-022-03523-2


In "Causality and Determination", Anscombe stressed that, in her view, physical determinism and free action were incompatible. As the relevant passage suggests, her espousal of incompatibilism was not merely due to specific features of human 'ethical' freedom, but (also) due to general features of agency, intentionality, and voluntariness. For Anscombe went on to tentatively suggest that lack of physical determination was required for the intentional conduct of animals we would not classify as ,free', too. In this paper, I examine three different lines of argument to establish Anscombe's latter suggestion, which are based on general considerations about the causal efficacy of psychological-agential phenomena, the nature of agency, and the specific features of intentional agency. I start with Anscombe's own claim from "The Causation of Action" that microphysical determinism would make psychological and personal phenomena epiphenomenal, before I turn to the view of 'Agency Incompatibilism', that genuine agency requires the absence of antecedent necessitation, and, lastly, to concerns about some crucial features of intentional agency which we find in both human and animal agents.

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How to cite


Mayr, E. (2022). Anscombe and Intentional Agency Incompatibilism (for human and animal agents). Synthese, 200(3).


Mayr, Erasmus. "Anscombe and Intentional Agency Incompatibilism (for human and animal agents)." Synthese 200.3 (2022).

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