, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 131–142

Can ‘Downward Causation’ Save Free Will?


DOI: 10.1007/s11406-009-9191-7

Cite this article as:
Capes, J.A. Philosophia (2010) 38: 131. doi:10.1007/s11406-009-9191-7


Recently, Trenton Merricks has defended a libertarian view of human freedom. He claims that human persons have downward causal control of their constituent parts, and that downward causal control of this sort is sufficient for free will. In this paper I examine Merricks’s defense of free will, and argue that it is unsuccessful. I show that having downward causal control is not sufficient for for free will. In an Appendix I also argue that Merricks’s defense of free will, together with assumptions implicit in his broader ontology, commit him to the implausible conclusion that determinism is incompatible with the existence of human persons.


Trenton Merricks Downward causation Mental causation Free will 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

Personalised recommendations