Philosophical Psychology 30 (6):731-762 (2017)

In this paper, I argue for two main hypotheses. First, that self-control is not a natural mental kind and, second, that there is no dedicated mechanism of self-control. By the first claim, I simply mean that those behaviors we label as “self-controlled” are a somewhat arbitrarily selected hodgepodge that do not have anything in common that distinguishes them from other behaviors. In other words, self-control is a gerrymandered property that does not correspond to a natural mental or psychological kind. By the second claim, I mean that self-controlled behaviors are not produced by a mechanism that is not utilized in the production of other behaviors. Not only is there no natural mental property of self-control, there is no mechanism that is dedicated to producing self-controlled behavior. I further evaluate whether this account of self-control has enough explanatory power to account for a range of phenomena related to self-control. I argue that my account does a better job of explaining these phenomena than accounts which appeal to a dedicated self-control mechanism.
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DOI 10.1080/09515089.2017.1336528
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An Integrative Theory of Prefrontal Cortex Function.Earl K. Miller & Jonathan D. Cohen - 2001 - Annual Review of Neuroscience 24 (1):167-202.
Mechanisms and Natural Kinds.Carl F. Craver - 2009 - Philosophical Psychology 22 (5):575-594.
Two Faces of Intention.Michael Bratman - 1984 - Philosophical Review 93 (3):375-405.

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