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Abstract

The idea of freedom of the will seems to conflict with the principle of causal efficacy implicit in many theories of mind. The conflict is normally resolved within a compatibilist view whereby the desires and beliefs of the agent, replete with a respectable if yet to be elucidated causal pedigree, are taken to be the basis of individual freedom. The present view is an alternative which erects mental content on a framework of rule following and then argues that rule-following is conceptually distinct from causally produced activity. The normative aspect of rule-following defies reduction to descriptive or dispositional terms. According to this view we cannot get beyond the agent as a self-determining rational individual in formulating a theory of mind and action. The theory is neo-Kantian in that it identifies rules or conceptions of laws as central in human thought. It, follows Wittgenstein's treatment of rule-following and generates a plausible (but non-causal) account of mental explanation and weakness of the will.