Backward Causation in Defence of Free Will
Forrest (Peter)
Source: Mind, Vol. 94, No. 374, Apr., 1985, pp. 210-217
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Philosophers Index Abstract

    Standard versions of compatibilism seek to reconcile our freedom to act with our acts being causally determined by earlier events. This paper defends different versions of compatibilism, namely the compatibility of free acts which are not caused by earlier events with the occurrence of deterministic laws for the physical world. The defense is based on backward causation1. It contends that when one acts freely, one affects the past, as well as the present and the future. It is worth comparing this approach with that of zeno vendler in "the matter of minds", ("clarendon press", oxford, 1984), which the author did not know of when this paper was written. Vendler seems to rely on a similar ability to affect past, present and future. However, on his account (pages 118-136) the transcendental self is the agent and so the actions are out of time and do not involve backward causation2.

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