Weakness and compulsion: the essential difference

Philosophical Explorations 14 (1):81-97 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

This paper aims to defend the common-sense view that we exempt compulsive agents from responsibility to the extent that they are unable to choose what they do and hence they cannot control their actions by their choices. This view has been challenged in a seminal paper by Gary Watson, who claimed that akratic agents lack control in the same sense but they are responsible nonetheless. In the first part of the paper, I critically examine the arguments Watson advances for this claim first in his original paper and then in some more recent works. I conclude that his account is based on the widely held assumption that both compulsive behavior and weakness of the will must be understood as a direct result of some inner motivational conflict. In the second part, I argue for an alternative understanding of the difference between weakness and compulsion. My claim is that compulsion is a cognitive rather than a motivational deficiency, since the compulsive, unlike the weak-willed, does not desire to perform the action which she actually performs. Furthermore, I argue that compulsive agents cannot control their actions by their choices because they have a distorted view of their own actional abilities. In the final part of the paper, I discuss a consequence of this account to the conditional analysis of free will as a condition of responsibility.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,429

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Skepticism About Weakness of Will.Gary Watson - 1977 - Philosophical Review 86 (3):316-339.
Addictive Actions.Edmund Henden - 2013 - Philosophical Psychology 26 (3):362-382.
Weakness of Will.Christine Tappolet - 2013 - In Hugh LaFolette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 4412-21.
Moral Responsibility, Freedom, and Compulsion.Robert N. Audi - 1974 - American Philosophical Quarterly 11 (1):1-14.
The Varieties of Compulsion in Addiction.Louis C. Charland - 2012 - American Journal of Bioethics 2 (2):50-51.
Freedom and Compulsion.J. Wilson - 1958 - Mind 67 (January):60-69.
Contagious Disease and Self-Defence.T. M. Wilkinson - 2007 - Res Publica 13 (4):339-359.

Analytics

Added to PP
2011-04-01

Downloads
71 (#167,605)

6 months
2 (#276,905)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Ferenc Huoranszki
Central European University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason.Michael Bratman - 1987 - Cambridge: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
On Action.Carl Ginet - 1990 - Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
How Is Weakness of the Will Possible?Donald Davidson - 1969 - In Joel Feinberg (ed.), Moral Concepts. Oxford University Press.

View all 28 references / Add more references