Embodied Akrasia: James on Motivation and Weakness of Will

William James Studies 14 (1):26-53 (2018)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
This paper presents an account of akrasia, drawn from the work of William James, that sees akrasia as neither a rational failing (as with most philosophical accounts) nor a moral failing (as with early Christian accounts), but rather a necessary by-product of our status as biological beings. By examining James’s related accounts of motivation and action, I argue that akratic actions occur when an agent attempts to act against her settled habits, but fails to do so. This makes akrasia a product of the agent’s practical failure to adequately structured her environment to bring about her desired action. Akratic action performs the vital function of revealing to the agent the exact point at which her cognitive effort was insufficient for bringing about her intended action. It also reveals that future improvement is within her control. As such, akratic action is the very foundation of James’s meliorism.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
Archival date: 2018-09-26
View other versions
Added to PP index

Total views
137 ( #31,232 of 54,441 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
22 ( #30,792 of 54,441 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.