Intentions, all-out evaluations and weakness of the will

Erkenntnis 61 (1):53-74 (2004)
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The problem of weakness of the will is often thought to arise because of an assumption that freely, deliberately and intentionally doing something must correspond to the agent's positive evaluation of doing that thing. In contemporary philosophy, a very common response to the problem of weakness has been to adopt the view that free, deliberate action does not need to correspond to any positive evaluation at all. Much of the support for this view has come from the difficulties the denial of it has been thought to give rise to, both with respect to giving an account of weakness, as well as explaining the future-directed nature of intentions. In this paper I argue that most of these difficulties only arise for one particular version of the view that free, deliberate action must correspond to a positive evaluation, a version associated with Donald Davidson's account of weakness. However, another version of this view is possible, and I argue that it escapes the standard objections to the Davidsonian account.

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Edmund Henden
Oslo Metropolitan University


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