Noûs 13 (2):153-171 (1979)

Michael Bratman
Stanford University
In a case of weak-willed action the agent acts-freely, deliberately, and for a reason-in a way contrary to his best judgment, even though he thinks he could act in accordance with his best judgment. The possibility of such actions has posed one problem in moral philosophy, the exact nature of the problem it poses another. In this essay I offer an answer to the latter problem: an explanation of why a plausible account of free, deliberate and purposive action seems to preclude the possibility of weak-willed action. I then try to resolve the first problem by developing this account in a way which allows for this possibility. The possibility of weak-willed action is made problematic by an account which sees free, deliberate and purposive action as involving the conclusion of a piece of practical reasoning. Solving the problem does not require us to abandon this conception but, rather, to notice certain special features of the relation between premises and conclusion in such reasoning.
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DOI 10.2307/2214395
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