CauPsy workshop


International symposium, UMB, 16-18 April 2013

Empowerment, agency and freedom


Practical info

Does our freedom consist in us being causes of our own action? Would such freedom be threatened if we were bound by laws of nature? And do such laws constrain only our bodies but not our thoughts?

The ancient problem of free will rests on a number of metaphysical assumptions concerning what are causes, laws, powers, properties and actions. Reductionist scientific theories such as neuropsychology and genetic determinism seem to suggest that neurons or genes are making our choices for us and are indeed the real agents. But does it even make sense to ascribe intentions, choices or agency to such entities?

This symposium will focus on the metaphysical issues around the problem of free will and explore the prospects for its metaphysical solution. The aim of the event is to (i) critically examine the ontological orthodoxies of this debate and (ii) explore the potential of the dispositions ontology as a better foundation for free will and agency.

How should we see agents as properly empowered and would them being so require that they violate the laws of nature? Both determinism and indeterminism seem to threaten our freedom. A world in which everything must be either necessary or purely contingent seems to offer little prospect of free will.

This international symposium will aim to explore whether a metaphysics of powers is able to offer an adequate account of our freedom that is neither deterministic nor indeterministic.

A list of speakers, titles and abstracts can be found here. Practical information about travel and accommodation is found here.

Organiser: Rani Lill Anjum (

Published 16. June 2014 - 14:25 - Updated 23. May 2017 - 19:36