Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy

Subject Categories

Theory and Philosophy


College of Liberal Arts



Thesis Adviser

Napoleon M. Mabaquiao Jr.

Defense Panel Chair

EIenita dLR Garcia

Defense Panel Member

Gansham T. Mansukhani
Florentino T. Timbreza
Juan Rafael G. Macaranas
Noelle Leslie G. dela Cruz


What is rational agency? What conceptual tools should we use when reasoning about it? What are the best methods for discovering the springs of our action and justifying our theoretical claims about it? A good starting point is to look at our common-sense, pre-analytical discourse about human action. There are two forms of such discourse. Firstly there is a descriptive discourse, describing what we do and explaining why we are doing it. When we are asked “Why did you do that?” we normally say “Because I wanted to and believed that by acting in this way I would achieve that result.” That is, we name a want and belief. These together constitute our reason for acting. “Why did you do that?” always expects a reason in response, and only accepts a reason as explanatory. This is why agency is rational. What, then, is a reason? A natural thought is to understand this teleologically. The reason, the goal that we want to achieve, is here thought of as somehow directing agency to the future. This is partly inspired by religious conceptions, where the human mind is considered to belong to a different world than is occupied by matter and explained by science. Agency is here the bridge between worlds of spirit and matter, an unpredictable, because voluntary, incursion into the physical world, originating outside of the causal chain of events which was at that time considered to be deterministically fixed. In modern times, our intuitions have turned away from this religiously inspired view towards a scientific view. Humanity, and human action, is a part of nature, not outside of it; the world of spirit has gone leaving only a world of matter to be studied by science and explained by scientific, causal laws. Human acts are now considered as events, effects of the reasons considered now as causes. The “why” question that asks for a reason is simply asking for a particular kind of cause, and psychological explanation relates to causal explanation as species to genus. This is the Causal Theory of Action. I will be defending this theory, and arguing for a complete homogeneity of explanation of the physical and psychological. It is this that I call Realistic Explanatory Monism. The second form of discourse is evaluative. We have practices of moralizing about human acts that we do not have for events. Do we have to deny the validity of these practices if, as physical events, acts are governed by exceptionless laws? We would not seem to have the freedom required to make these exceptions. My response to this is twofold. First of all, I claim that freedom and responsibility is incompatible with exceptionless laws, but that at least some of the laws concerning agency are not exceptionless – they are indeterministic rather than deterministic. Secondly, indeterminism is not unique to agency, but occurs naturally, for instance at the quantum level.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

401 leaves ; 28 cm.


Monism; Philosophy

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