Many accounts of the causation of overt intentional bodily actions assume that what happens when you are making your body move during an action must be explained in terms of causal relations among discrete *events*. For example, many claim that the occurrence of a mental event non-deviantly causes the occurrence of the corresponding movements of the body. Call this the “Event-Causal Assumption” (ECA).
Given ECA, if you want your account of the causation of action to include a causal role for the agent in the production of her own bodily movements and actions, the typical occupant for that role is some mental event, such as a desire, belief, or intention.
But this widespread assumption generates an equally familiar problem: if your causal role in generating your own bodily movements during an action is occupied by some mental event, there is nothing left for *you to do* with respect to those movements. There is nothing left for you to do because all of the necessary causal work is accomplished via the relevant mental event. This is one version of the “Problem of the Missing Agent”.
Here’s a three-step argument that purports to generate this conclusion:
(1) When you are performing an overt intentional bodily action, the movements of your body are non-deviantly caused by the occurrence of your mental events (ECA)
(2) There is no sense in which *you* are identical to any of your mental events, or to the entire set or collection of your mental events
(3) When you are performing an intentional bodily action, *you* are not playing any causal role in generating your own bodily movements during your performance of that action
If this argument is persuasive, for those many philosophers who tacitly or explicitly endorse some version of (ECA), how do you ensure that your account of the causation of action includes a causal role for the agent?
I see two options: (a) you could embrace the implausible claim that you are identical to some mental event, or to the entire set or collection of your mental events; or (b) you could reject the commitment to (ECA) and find an alternative account of the causal role of the agent.
So, should the defender of (ECA) bite the bullet and claim that you are an event? Or should the metaphysical implausibility of that claim force the rejection of (ECA)? Or is there some third option?