Empirically-Informed Approaches to Weakness of Will: A Brains Blog Roundtable

Weakness of will is a traditional puzzle in the philosophy of action. The puzzle goes something like this:

FOLK PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORY: If, at time t, an agent judges that it is better to do A than B, and she believes she is free to do A, then, provided she tries to do either at that time, she will try to do A and not B.

WEAKNESS OF WILL: An agent judges that it is better to do A than B, believes that she is free to do A, but tries to do B.

But taken together, these statements are inconsistent. FOLK PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORY precludes the possibility of weakness of will (as characterized in WEAKNESS OF WILL), but WEAKNESS OF WILL asserts that it occurs. So can WEAKNESS OF WILL be possible, and if so, how?

CFP: Pluralistic Approaches to Folk Psychology

Special Issue of Synthese: “Folk Psychology: Pluralistic Approaches” Volume editors: Evan Westra (Toronto), Kristin Andrews (York), and Shannon Spaulding (Oklahoma State). Deadline: May 15th, 2019. Traditionally, ‘folk psychology’ has been understood to mean the ordinary practice of predicting, explaining, and interpreting behavior through attributions of beliefs, desires, and other propositional attitudes. …

Applications of the Account of the Evolution of Representational Decision Making

Today—in my (alas!) last posting—I suggest some ways the account of the evolution of representational decision making laid out in my book (and sketched in outline last time on the blog) can be applied to a number of open questions in philosophy, psychology, and economics. I will focus on three …

The Evolution of Representational Decision Making

Why did some organisms switch from relying just on reflexive—i.e. purely perceptually-driven—interactions with the world to also employing the tools of representational decision making? What adaptive and other benefits does the reliance on representational decision making yield? Today, I sketch aspects of the answers to these questions; for more details, …

Foundations of the Investigation of the Evolution of Representational Decision Making

Before it is possible to begin the investigation of the evolution of representational decision making it is necessary to address three foundational issues: (1) The nature of representational decision making—what is it that we are investigating? (2) The reality of representational decision making—why think that representational decision making is a …

Efficient Cognition—The Evolution of Representational Decision Making

I want to thank John Schwenkler for inviting me to blog about my new book, Efficient Cognition—The Evolution of Representational Decision Making. I am excited to be sharing with you all the reasons why I find the evolution of representational decision making such a fascinating research project. I also look …

#MindsOnline 2015, Session 1: Social Cognition

The Minds Online conference has begun, and our first session will be open for discussion through September 4. It is on the theme of Social Cognition, and includes the following papers: Tony Jack and Jared Friedman (Case Western Reserve): “Mapping cognitive structure onto the landscape of philosophical debate: an empirical framework …

Which Theory of Mind? – And other questions

In my final post I would like to wrap up by sketching some of the implications of my proposal – in particular concerning our theorizing about social cognition – as well as raising some questions that are being left open. There exists quite a large controversy in philosophy and psychology …