James R. Beebe
University at Buffalo, SUNY
The Folk Conception of Weakness of Will
Experimental philosophers have recently begun to investigate the folk conception of weakness of will. Despite the fact that philosophers have traditionally viewed weakness of will as consisting solely in akrasia--i.e., in acting contrary to one's better judgment--researchers have found that the moral valence of actions and the violation of resolutions to act in particular ways also figure prominently in folk thinking about weakness of will. Some have suggested that these findings are not easily accommodated by the traditional analysis and that it must be replaced. I will discuss the results of studies that investigate the role that moral valence and resolution violations play in attributions of weakness of will and how these factors interact with attributions of akrasia. I then propose a unifying explanation of the data in terms of the violation of normative reasons for action.
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