Philosophical Review 86 (3):316-339 (1977)

Gary Watson
University of Southern California
My concern in this paper will be to explore and develop a version of nonsocratic skepticism about weakness of will. In my view, socratism is incorrect, but like Socrates, I think that the common understanding of weakness of will raises serious problems. Contrary to socratism, it is possible for a person knowingly to act contrary to his or her better judgment. But this description does not exhaust the common view of weakness. Also implicit in this view is the belief that actions which are contrary to one's better judgment are free in the sense that the agent could have done otherwise. To take seriously the possibility of acting contrary to one's better judgment is at the same time to raise problems about the distinction between weakness and compulsion. I argue that the common view, according to which the differentiating feature is that the weak are able to conform their behavior to their practical judgments, is unjustified. Instead, I have proposed that weakness of will involves the failure to develop certain normal capacities of self-control, whereas compulsion involves desires which even the possession of such capacities would not enable one to resist.
Keywords akrasia  freedom  compulsion
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DOI 10.2307/2183785
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Deontology and Descartes’s Demon.Brian Weatherson - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy 105 (9):540-569.
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Praise, Blame and the Whole Self.Nomy Arpaly & Timothy Schroeder - 1999 - Philosophical Studies 93 (2):161-188.

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