Graduate studies at Western
European Journal of Philosophy 17 (1):45-59 (2009)
|Abstract||According to the traditional view of weakness of will, a weak-willed agent acts in a way inconsistent with what she judges to be best.1 Richard Holton has argued against this view, claiming that ‘the central cases of weakness of will are best characterized not as cases in which people act against their better judgment, but as cases in which they fail to act on their intentions’ (1999: 241). But Holton doesn’t think all failures to act on one’s prior intentions, or all revisings of intentions, are cases of weakness of will (WW). Rather, he thinks an intention-revision is a case of WW only when it occurs ‘in circumstances in which [one] should not have revised [the intention]’. Holton points out that according to the traditional view of WW, to call an agent ‘weak-willed’ is to make descriptive claim about the agent (about whether an action in fact is inconsistent with what (s)he judges to be best). But according to Holton’s account, the question of whether the agent was weak-willed ‘will depend on which intentions [the agent] should have stuck with as a rational intender. That is a normative question’ (my emphasis) (241-3, 247-8.|
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