Ambivalence

Philosophical Explorations 13 (1):23 – 34 (2010)
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Abstract

The phenomenon of ambivalence is an important one for any philosophy of action. Despite this importance, there is a lack of a fully satisfactory analysis of the phenomenon. Although many contemporary philosophers recognize the phenomenon, and address topics related to it, only Harry Frankfurt has given the phenomenon full treatment in the context of action theory - providing an analysis of how it relates to the structure and freedom of the will. In this paper, I develop objections to Frankfurt's account, all revolving around the charge that his account contains a serious ambiguity between willing and identifying. With such objections in place, I then develop an analysis that avoids the difficulties and ambiguities that Frankfurt's analysis is prey to. I briefly distinguish ambivalence from other types of internal conflict. This paper aims to offer conceptual clarification on the phenomenon of ambivalence, which will then allow for discussions about the normative merits and demerits of ambivalence, the effects of ambivalence on autonomous action, and methods of resolution of ambivalence

Author's Profile

Jennifer Swindell Blumenthal-Barby
Baylor College of Medicine

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