Fri Dec 2, 2016
|Graduate Research Colloquium
Akrasia and the Diversity of Motivation: A New Defense of Tripartition
Abstract: In cases of akrasia, we intentionally act against our judgment of what we ought to do. Despite the commonplaceness of the phenomenon, philosophers going back to Socrates have had a hard time so much as accounting for its possibility. Socrates (as presented in Plato’s Protagoras) held an intellectualist theory of motivation, according to which all action is motivated by belief about what is best. Plato responded to this in the Republic by arguing that certain cases of psychological conflict require dividing the soul into three motivating parts. I enter into the contemporary debate with an analogous argument and for an analogous position. I begin by arguing that weak-willed action could not possibly be an expression of practical reasoning. Thus, if weak-willed action is possible, we must have a way of acting for reasons other than through our faculty of reason. After showing how this argument holds up against approaches from Michael Bratman and Pamela Hieronymi, I say briefly how I think we should respond to this argument – by accepting a new tripartite theory of motivation consisting of reason, desire, and will.