How Temptation Works

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

For most philosophers who have written recently on the topic, to give into temptation is always to revise a decision in a way that is somehow unreasonableā€”as when, say, recalling that there is a World Cup game that I can stream from my office, I abandon my plan to spend the morning writing. But I argue in this paper that a person can also give in to the temptation to violate a decision without undoing that decision or even calling it into question. This is possible, I argue, because the content of our decisions does not always settle exactly what is required to abide by them. This slack between the explicit content of our decisions, and the specific acts by which we carry or fail to carry them out, allows us to act contrary to those decisions even as they remain in place. As such, temptation of this kind cannot be resisted simply by refraining from reconsidering our decisions or changing our minds about what to do.

Author's Profile

John Schwenkler
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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