Aristotle, akrasia, and the place of desire in moral reasoning

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (2):195 - 207 (2007)
This paper serves both as a discussion of Henry’s (Ethical Theory Moral Practice, 5:255–270, 2002) interpretation of Aristotle on the possibility of akrasia – knowing something is wrong and doing it anyway – and an indication of the importance of desire in Aristotle’s account of moral reasoning. As I will explain, Henry’s interpretation is advantageous for the reason that it makes clear how Aristotle could have made good sense of genuine akrasia, a phenomenon that we seem to observe in the real world, while maintaining non-trivial distinctions between temperance (sôphrosunê), self-indulgence (akolasia), self-control (enkrateia) and akrasia. There are, however, some interpretive challenges that follow from Henry’s account and this paper is intended to explain and resolve those.
Keywords akrasia  Aristotle  desire  Devin Henry  practical reasoning
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DOI 10.2307/40602523
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John McDowell (1979). Virtue and Reason. The Monist 62 (3):331-350.

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