, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 131–142 | Cite as

Can ‘Downward Causation’ Save Free Will?

  • Justin A. CapesEmail author


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 



Special thanks to Joe Long, Michael McKenna, Brandon Warmke and two anonymous referees for Philosophia for their helpful feedback on previous drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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