By David Copp; Association canadienne des publications en philosophie
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Extra info for Canadian philosophers : celebrating twenty years of the CJP
For the moment I am not attempting to resolve the issue, merely to state it. 6 On that theory, weakness of will occurs when, in a conflict of desirestodosomething, an irrational, or 'blind,' desire issuing from one part of the soul overcomes a rational desire issuing from another part of the soul; and so one acts contrary to the opinion, embodied in the rational desire, of what the best option is for one in the circumstances. If I am right 5 The issue here is one of complexity: Proponents of the Socratic principle will need to argue that one's grasp on situations is sufficiently complex and multifaceted that such slight differences in gestalt are eminently possible: see the third last paragraph of the paper.
And since quite particular actions can result from such altered desires – such strength Page 41 ened irrational desires are natural candidates for producing classic cases of weakness of will – these will be irrational executive desires. So the principles (R) and (R*) are false. 4 Obviously, proponents of the Socratic principles (R) and (R*) will have to argue, against such a picture, that an ever so slight difference in hormonal level, if it strengthens executive desire, must also lead to an ever so slight difference in one's estimate of expected good 3 This is a variant on Davidson's 'desire … enter[ing] the decision twice over' (1982, 297).
Also Walsh (27 [ = Vlastos (1971, 262)]) on the Medea and the Hippolytus. IIIIV below – the way will perhaps seem somewhat more open for a Socratic account of akrasia. We have seen that, for Socrates, (A) all action is the joint product of (i) an (initially indefinite) desire for whatever is best for the agent in the given circumstances, together with (ii) the agent's beliefs about which of the options actually available in the circumstances is the best option for the agent. Plato and Aristotle, by contrast, believe that some actions are the product of desires that are not rational in the sense of being desires for what the agent thinks best.