Noûs 23 (5):653-676 (1989)
AbstractPhilosophical discussions of akrasia over the last fifteen years have focused on certain skeptical arguments which purport to question the possibility of a kind of akratic action which, following Pears, I call 'last ditch akrasia' (Pears ). An agent, succumbing to last ditch akrasia, freely, knowingly, and intentionally performs an action A against his better judgment that an incompatible action B is the better thing to do. (See Audi  for a detailed analysis.) Last ditch akrasia is not the only kind that has been discussed. Some philosophers (Mele , Scaltas ) have been concerned with a more extreme form of akratic action, viz. one in which the agent not only judges that action B is best, but in addition intends (chooses, decides) to B. Some have even questioned whether freely acting against one's better judgment is sufficient for akratic action (Schiffer : 201-3).1 Weaker types of akratic action have been discussed, though to a much lesser extent, since they are thought less problematic. Pears distinguishes last ditch akrasia from what he calls, "motivated irrational action" (: 160). In cases of the latter, the akrates' rebellious desire infects his prior reasoning and thinking in such a way that his contemplated action seems to him warranted, and he acts accordingly. (For a taxonomy of cases of akratic action, see Rorty ()). Nor has the discussion of akrasia been restricted to akratic action. Philosophers have discussed whether akrasia can be exhibited in the formation of intentions, wants (See Audi : 181-185), and beliefs (Mele : ch. 8; Heil ). The primary focus in this paper is on last ditch akratic action.
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