In M. Brent (ed.), Mental Action and the Conscious Mind (forthcoming)

Authors
Sebastian Watzl
University of Oslo
Abstract
It has been argued that the explanation of self-control requires positing special motivational powers. Some think that we need will-power as an irreducible mental faculty; others that we need to think of the active self as a dedicated and depletable pool of psychic energy or – in today more respectable terminology – mental resources; finally, there is the idea that self-control requires postulating a deep division between reason and passion – a deliberative and an emotional motivational system. This essay argues that no such special motivational powers are necessary. Yet, at the same time, self-control does powerfully illustrate the importance of a feature of the mind. What it illustrates, I argue, is the importance of the mental activity of attention in the control of all action. It is by appeal to this mental activity that we can dispense with special motivational powers. If we think of Humeanism as the view that there is fundamentally only one kind of motivational system and that all action is based in that system, then this essay contributes to a defense of Humeanism. On the other hand, the essay also shows that any model of agency in terms of only beliefs and desires, motivational and representational states, or preferences and credences is incomplete. A different conception of Humeanism as the view that every mental state is either motivational, representational, or a combination of them, is false.
Keywords self-control, action, self-control, mental resource, attention
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on Amazon.com
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

View all 32 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Mental Action and Causalism.Jing Zhu - 2007 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 28 (2):89.
Mental Action and the Threat of Automaticity.Wayne Wu - 2013 - In Andy Clark, Julian Kiverstein & Tillman Vierkant (eds.), Decomposing the Will. Oxford University Press. pp. 244-61.
Deciding as Intentional Action: Control Over Decisions.Joshua Shepherd - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (2):335-351.
Experts and Deviants: The Story of Agentive Control.Wayne Wu - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (2):101-26.
Remembering as a Mental Action.Santiago Arango-Munoz & Juan Pablo Bermúdez - 2018 - In Kourken Michaelian, Dorothea Debus & Denis Perrin (eds.), New Directions in the Philosophy of Memory. Routledge. pp. 75-96.
Self-Control, Motivational Strength, and Exposure Therapy.Alfred R. Mele - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 170 (2):359-375.
The Power of Agency.Michael Brent - 2012 - Dissertation, Columbia University
Self-Control and Belief.Alfred R. Mele - 1994 - Philosophical Psychology 7 (4):419 – 435.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2020-11-16

Total views
77 ( #133,042 of 2,427,504 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
77 ( #9,227 of 2,427,504 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes