Objective Prescriptions, and Other Essays

By R. M. Hare | Go to book overview

9
WEAKNESS OF THE WILL

9. 1. WEAKNESS of will is discussed by philosophers mainly in connection with disputes between adherents of internalism and their opponents, the externalists (see Chapter 8). Substantially the same dispute divides advocates of prescriptivism from descriptivists. According to prescriptivists and internalists, in the sense in which the term is here used, one cannot hold a moral or other evaluative opinion without prescribing or desiring that it be acted on, or being motivated to act on it oneself if one is the subject of it. To descriptivists and externalists this has seemed obviously false ( Ewing 1959; ch. 1). The existence of cases in which people (the weak-willed or acratic) think that they ought to be doing something but are not disposed to do it seems an obvious objection to prescriptivism and internalism.

On the other hand, there is a problem for externalists and descriptivists too. For if there were no connection between the thought that one ought to do something and the disposition to do it, there would be no puzzle about weakness of will; but there clearly is a puzzle. If someone does not do what he (or she) says he thinks he ought to be doing, an explanation is called for. The person who says 'Yes I ought. So what?' is thought to have something wrong, not merely with his morals, but with his understanding of morality (of the word 'ought'). The only way to sort out these problems is by a careful analysis of the different contexts and the different senses in which we can say 'I ought' but not do what we say we ought, in order to determine whether there are any cases which impugn one or other of the two positions. Such an analysis might leave each side in possession of part of the field, and resolve one of the central problems in ethical theory. But it has not yet been achieved.

9. 2. The problem first arose when Socrates, as reported by Plato (e.g. Prot.352 ff.) and Aristotle ( EN 1145b25), denied the possibility of akrasiā or weakness of will. All these philosophers were in part

____________________
"'Weakness of the Will.'" From L. Becker, ed., Encyclopedia of Ethics ( New York: Garland, 1992).

-109-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Objective Prescriptions, and Other Essays
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 234

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.