Resisting Weakness of the Will

Philos Phenomenol Res. 2011 Jan;82(1):134-155. doi: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2010.00424.x.


I develop an account of weakness of the will that is driven by experimental evidence from cognitive and social psychology. I will argue that this account demonstrates that there is no such thing as weakness of the will: no psychological kind corresponds to it. Instead, weakness of the will ought to be understood as depletion of System II resources. Neither the explanatory purposes of psychology nor our practical purposes as agents are well-served by retaining the concept. I therefore suggest that we ought to jettison it, in favour of the vocabulary and concepts of cognitive psychology.