What good is a will?

In Anton Leist & Holger Baumann (eds.), Action in Context. De Gruyter/Mouton (2007)
As a philosopher of action, I might be expected to believe that the will is a good thing. Actually, I believe that the will is a great thing - awesome, in fact. But I'm not thereby committed to its being something good. When I say that the will is awesome, I mean literally that it is a proper object of awe, a response that restrains us from abusing the will and moves us rather to use it respectfully, in a way that does it justice. To say that the will is a good thing, however, would imply that having a will is better than not having one, or that using it is better than not using it - neither of which I am prepared to assert as a general rule. Speaking metaphorically, I would say that the will is like a magic wand. In fairy tales, the character who looks upon a magic wand as an unalloyed good is destined to be sadder but wiser in the end. Being a magician isn't better than being an ordinary human, just different; and a magician must value his powers by respecting them and therefore using them appropriately, even sparingly, not by using them as much as possible.
Keywords action  will  intention
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Niko Kolodny (2008). The Myth of Practical Consistency. European Journal of Philosophy 16 (3):366-402.
Sarah K. Paul (2012). How We Know What We Intend. Philosophical Studies 161 (2):327-346.
Jonathan Way (2010). The Normativity of Rationality. Philosophy Compass 5 (12):1057-1068.

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