Weakness of will, reasonability, and compulsion

Synthese 190 (18):4077-4093 (2013)
Authors
James R. Beebe
State University of New York, Buffalo
Abstract
Experimental philosophers have recently begun to investigate the folk conception of weakness of will (e.g., Mele in Philos Stud 150:391–404, 2010; May and Holton in Philos Stud 157:341–360, 2012; Beebe forthcoming; Sousa and Mauro forthcoming). Their work has focused primarily on the ways in which akrasia (i.e., acting contrary to one’s better judgment), unreasonable violations of resolutions, and variations in the moral valence of actions modulate folk attributions of weakness of will. A key finding that has emerged from this research is that—contrary to the predominant view in the history of philosophy—ordinary participants do not think of weakness of will solely in terms of akrasia but see resolution violations and moral evaluations as playing equally important roles. The present article extends this line of research by reporting the results of four experiments that investigate (i) the interplay between hastily revising one’s resolutions and the degree of reasonableness of the actions one had resolved to undertake, (ii) whether ordinary participants are willing to ascribe weakness of will to agents whose actions stem from compulsion or addiction, and (iii) the respects in which akratic action, resolution violations, and the seriousness of an addiction impact attributions of weakness of will to agents acting in accord with their addictions
Keywords Weakness of will  Akrasia  Intention  Compulsion  Addiction  Experimental philosophy  Folk psychology
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-013-0250-z
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References found in this work BETA

The Language of Morals.R. M. Hare - 1952 - Oxford Clarendon Press.
Willing, Wanting, Waiting.Richard Holton - 2009 - Oxford University Press UK.
Freedom and Reason.R. M. Hare - 1963 - Oxford, Clarendon Press.
Intention and Weakness of Will.Richard Holton - 1999 - Journal of Philosophy 96 (5):241.
How Is Weakness of the Will Possible?Donald Davidson - 1969 - In Joel Feinberg (ed.), Moral Concepts. Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Experimental and the Empirical: Arne Naess' Statistical Approach to Philosophy.Siobhan Chapman - 2018 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 26 (5):961-981.

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Resisting 'Weakness of the Will'.Neil Levy - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1):134 - 155.

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