Old Problems for the Agency Theory of Causal Discourse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)939-951
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Early online date21 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Price’s (Br J Philos Sci 42(2):157–176, 1991; 44(2):187–203, 1993 (with Peter Menzies); 2007, 2017) agency theory of causation has takes itself to provide a use-theory of our causal discourse. The theory’s aim is to describe the rules implicit to our linguistic behaviour when we describe things in causal terms. According to this theory, the rules governing our use of the concept of causation are based on our perspective as agents and our associated experiences of manipulating events. I argue that the observed relation between agency and our concept of causation cannot exhaustively describe the conditions under which we enter into causal discourse. In particular, I demonstrate that the agency theory faces familiar problems with accounting for causal ascriptions to token cases.

External organisations

  • University of Leeds

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