Synthese 191 (16):3935-3954 (2014)

John Turri
University of Waterloo
Mathieu Doucet
University of Waterloo
Prior work on weakness of will has assumed that it is a thoroughly psychological phenomenon. At least, it has assumed that ordinary attributions of weakness of will are purely psychological attributions, keyed to the violation of practical commitments by the weak-willed agent. Debate has recently focused on which sort of practical commitment, intention or normative judgment, is more central to the ordinary concept of weakness of will. We report five experiments that significantly advance our understanding of weakness of will attributions by showing that the ordinary concept of weakness of will is less thoroughly psychological than the philosophical debate has assumed. We begin by showing that a sizable minority of people attribute weakness of will even in the absence of a violated commitment (Experiment 1). We then show that weakness of will attributions are sensitive to two important non-psychological factors. First, for actions stereotypically associated with weakness of will, the absence of certain commitments often triggers weakness of will attributions (Experiments 2–4). Second, the quality of an action’s outcome affects the extent to which an agent is viewed as weak-willed: actions with bad consequences are more likely to be viewed as weak-willed (Experiment 5). Our most important finding is that the ordinary concept of weakness of will is sensitive to two non-psychological factors and is thus much broader than philosophers have thus far imagined. We conclude by suggesting a two-tier model that unites our findings with traditional philosophical theorizing about weakness of will
Keywords Weakness of will  Akrasia  Self-control  Resolution  Intention  Commitment violation  experimental philosophy  Folk psychology
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-014-0508-0
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References found in this work BETA

Willing, Wanting, Waiting.Richard Holton - 2009 - Oxford University Press UK.
Intention and Weakness of Will.Richard Holton - 1999 - Journal of Philosophy 96 (5):241.

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Citations of this work BETA

The ordinary concept of weakness of will.Ali Yousefi Heris - 2020 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 19 (1):123-139.
What is the Link Between Regret and Weakness of Will?Mathieu Doucet - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (3):448-461.
The ordinary concept of weakness of will.Ali Yousefi Heris - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 8 (1):123-139.

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