What in the World is Weakness of Will?

Philosophical Studies 157 (3):341–360 (2012)
Abstract
At least since the middle of the twentieth century, philosophers have tended to identify weakness of will with akrasia—i.e. acting, or having a disposition to act, contrary to one‘s judgments about what is best for one to do. However, there has been some recent debate about whether this captures the ordinary notion of weakness of will. Richard Holton (1999, 2009) claims that it doesn’t, while Alfred Mele (2010) argues that, to a certain extent, it does. As Mele recognizes, the question about an ordinary concept here is one apt for empirical investigation. We evaluate Mele’s studies and report some experiments of our own in order to investigate what in the world the ordinary concept of weakness of will is. We conclude that neither Mele nor Holton (previously) was quite right and offer a tentative proposal of our own: the ordinary notion is more like a prototype or cluster concept whose application is affected by a variety of factors.
Keywords Knobe effect  resolution  experimental philosophy  side-effect effect
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References found in this work BETA
Donald Davidson (1970). How Is Weakness of the Will Possible? In Joel Feinberg (ed.), Moral Concepts. Oxford University Press.
Dylan Dodd (2009). Weakness of Will as Intention-Violation. European Journal of Philosophy 17 (1):45-59.
Daniel T. Gilbert (1991). How Mental Systems Believe. American Psychologist 46 (2):107-119.
Richard Holton (1999). Intention and Weakness of Will. Journal of Philosophy 96 (5):241-262.

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Alfred Mele (2010). Weakness of Will and Akrasia. Philosophical Studies 150 (3):391–404.
Adam Feltz (2007). The Knobe Effect: A Brief Overview. Journal of Mind and Behavior 28:265-277.
Roblin R. Meeks (2004). Unintentionally Biasing the Data: Reply to Knobe. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 24 (2):220-223.
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