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Abstract

Aristotle's account of akrasia is unsatisfactory for a number of reasons. First, his account of the problem is coloured by a number of unattractive assumptions and preoccupations; second, his central claim, that akrasia involves a temporary displacement of knowledge, deals at best with only a small number of cases; third, he is wrong to suppose that the akrates is typically someone overwhelmed by passion. We need to follow Davidson in recognising that the central problem consists in a failure to convert intention into action. Any solution must involve a recognition that we are dealing with a range of very different kinds of case, which demand different kinds of treatment. For example sometimes agents are overtaken by passion; sometimes they coolly and calmly do the wrong thing; sometimes they are insincere; sometimes they are suffering from a weakness of will; sometimes they are guilty of some kind of self deception; and sometimes they may have difficulty in comparing the goods and evils available.