A Wholehearted Defense of Ambivalence

The Journal of Ethics 21 (4):419-444 (2017)

Abstract

Despite widespread agreement that ambivalence precludes agency “at its best,” in this paper I argue that ambivalence as such is no threat to one’s agency. In particular, against “unificationists” like Harry Frankfurt I argue that failing to be fully integrated as an agent, lacking purity of heart, or being less than wholehearted in one’s choices, tells us nothing about whether an agent’s will is properly functioning. Moreover, it will turn out that in many common circumstances, wholeheartedness with respect to some motive or course of action is itself a defect in an agent’s will.

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D. Justin Coates
University of Houston

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