Locke and the Problem of Weakness of the Will
I defend three interconnected points relating to Locke’s discussion of akrasia in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding (II 21). First, insofar as Locke’s account of weakness of the will calls for some sort of freedom, the freedom required is freedom of thinking, not freedom of willing. Second, Locke’s conception of akrasia is relatively mild in that it does not involve a particularly deep form of practical irrationality. Third, although in the second and subsequent editions of the Essay Locke loosens the strong connection between judging and willing that was characteristic of the first edition, it is mistaken to claim that Locke entirely renounces intellectualism. What remains of intellectualism accounts for the mildness of Locke’s conception of akrasia.
KeywordsLocke Akrasia/weakness of the will Action Irrationality Freedom
- Davidson D (1989) How is weakness of the will possible? In: Davidson D (ed) Essays on actions and events. Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp 21–42Google Scholar
- Locke J (1975) An essay concerning human understanding (ed: Nidditch PH) Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Locke J (1976–1989) The correspondence of John Locke, 7 vols (ed: de Beer ES). Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Mele A (1987) Irrationality. An essay on akrasia, self-deception and self-control. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar