The folk concepts of weakness and strength of will

Our aim is to map the structure of the folk concepts of weakness and strength of will, which requires empirically motivated answers to various questions. Is there significant cross-cultural variation in these concepts? Do they form a perfectly complementary semantic opposition? Do they refer chiefly to personality traits or to specific decision-making processes and actions? What are the conceptual differences related to these distinct references? Which types of structure do these concepts possess? Are their formats like prototypes or like micro-theories, for example? Are they evaluative concepts, as suggested by the expressions “succumbing or not succumbing to temptation”? If so, would they be part of folk morality rather than folk psychology? To which types of decision-making conflicts do they apply? Which component is more fundamental to their structure—a notion of resolution or of best judgment? Which absence or presence of control and freedom do they imply? We plan to investigate these and other pertinent questions, and we have already obtained interesting results with respect to some of them (Mauro & Sousa, in preparation).
Relevant bibliography*
Aristotle (1998). Nicomachean Ethics. Translator D. Ross, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Davidson, D. (1970). How Is Weakness of the Will Possible? In Joel Feinberg (ed.). Moral Concepts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Davidson, D. (1982). Paradoxes of Irrationality. In R. Wollheim and J. Hopkins, eds. Philosophical Essays on Freud. Cambridge University Press.
Dodd, Dylan (2009). Weakness of Will as Intention-Violation. European Journal of Philosophy, 17(1), 45-59.
Holton, R. (1999). Intention and weakness of will. Journal of Philosophy, 96(5), 241-262.
Holton, R. (2003). How is strength of will possible? In C. Tappolet & S. Stroud (Eds.), Weakness of Will and Practical Irrationality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Holton, R. (2004). Rational Resolve. Philosophical Review. 113, pp. 507-35.
Holton, R. (2009). Willing, Wanting, Waiting. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Holton, R. Inverse Akrasia and Weakness of Will. (
Levy, Neil (forthcoming). Resisting Weakness of the Will. Philosophy & Phenomenological Research.
May, J. & Holton, R. (forthcoming). What in the World is Weakness of Will? Philosophical Studies.
Mauro, C. (2009). Será que de facto eu decido? (Do I decide, in fact?). In C. Mauro, S. Miguens & S. Cadilha (Eds). Mente, Linguagem e Acção: Artigos para Discussão. Porto: Campo das Letras.
Mauro, C. & Cadilha, S. (2006). Por que não pode existir uma acção irracional (Why an irrational action cannot exist). In  S. Miguens & C. Mauro (Eds). Perspectives on Rationality. Porto: FLUP.
Mauro, C. & Cadilha, S. (2009). Racionalidade na Acção: podemos de facto explicar (racionalizar) as nossas acções? (Rationality in Action: Can we really explain (rationalize) our actions?), In M. L. Couto Soares, N. Venturinha e G. C. Santos (org.). O estatuto do Singular: Estratégias e Perspectivas. Lisboa: INCM.
Mauro, C. & Maçorano, J. P. (2006). Racionalidade na Acção – uma explicação a partir do modelo crença-desejo. (Rationality in Action – an explanation from belief-desire model). Revista de Economia e Relações Internacionais, São Paulo: FEC-FAAP, 5 (8), 2006.
Mauro, C. & Sousa, P. (in preparation). Weakness and Strength of Will — An Experiment on Folk Concepts.
McIntyre, A. (2006). What is Wrong with Weakness of Will? Journal of Philosophy, 103(6), 284-311.
Mele, A. (1987). Irrationality: An Essay on Akrasia, Self-Deception, and Self-Control. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mele, A. (1992). Akrasia, self-control, and second-order desires. Nous, 26, 281–302
Mele, A. (1996). Socratic akratic action. Philosophical Papers, 25, 149–159.
Mele, A. (2010). Weakness of will and akrasia. Philosophical Studies, 150(3), 391-404.
Platão (2009). Protagoras. Translator C. Taylor, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Stroud, S., & Tappolet, C. (Eds.) (2007). Weakness of Will and Practical Irrationality. Oxford: Oxford Clarendon Press.
Watson, G. (1977). Skepticism about weakness of will. Philosophical Review, 86(3), 316-339.


*Much of this bibliography is only indirectly relevant since it is not about folk concepts.

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