Document Type : Research Paper


associate professor, University of Qom, Qom,Iran.


According to traditional philosophical literature, Akrasia is defined as acting against one’s best judgment. Philosophers have considered Akrasia as synonymous with the weakness of will. However, Holton considers these two phenomena to be distinct and argues that weakness of will is better understood as over-readily giving up on one's resolutions. This study seeks to show that these two phenomena – unlike Holton's claim – are not distinct, but the accounts of Akrasia and weakness of will take two approaches to explain the reasons behind quitting actions: (1) in terms of its relationship to the agent; and (2) in terms of its relationship to the action. The researcher attempts to show that Holton's interpretation of the weakness of will refers to the second perspective whereas Aristotle approaches it from two perspectives. However, on duly analyzing the elements put forward by Holton, we can see them to be consistent with those of Aristotle.


Aristotle (1980) Nicomachean Ethics , Trans. David Ross, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Aristotle (1981) On The Soul, H.G. Apostle (trans.), Grinnell, Lowa: Peripatetic Press.
Anscombe, G. E. M. (1963) Intention, Oxford: Blackwell.
Bratman, M. (1987) Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Davidson, D. (1970) ‘How is Weakness of the Will Possible?’, In J. Fienberg(ed.) Moral Concepts ,Reprinted in Essays on Actions and Events, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980: 21–42 ; 2001: 25-43.
Davidson, D. (1978) ‘Intending’, in Y. Yovel (ed.) Philosophy of History and Action , Dordrecht, Holand: D. Reidel, pp. 41-60. Reprinted in Essays on Actions and Events, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980: 83–102.
Davidson, D. (1985). Replies to essays I–IX. In B. Vermazen & M. Hintikka (eds.), Essays on Davidson, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Hare, R. M. (1952) The Language of Morals, oxford: Clarendon Press.
 Hare, R. M. (1963) Freedom and Reason, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Holton R. (1999) ‘Intention and Weakness of Will’, Journal of Philosophy 96 : 241-62 .
Holton, R. (2003) ‘How is Strength of Will Possible?’, In S. Stroud and C Tappolet (eds.) , Weakness of Will and Practical Irrationality , Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 39-67
Holton, R. (2004) ‘Rational Resolve’ , Philosophical Review 113 (4): 507-535.
Holton, R. (2007) ‘Freedom, Coercion and Discursive Control’, In G. Brennan, R. Goodin & M. Smith (eds.) Common Minds, Oxford: Clarendon Press: pp. 104-17.
Holton , R. (2008) ‘ Partial Belief, Partial Intention’ , Mind 117 (465): 27-58.
Holton, R. (2009) Willing, Wanting, Waiting, New York: Oxford University Press.
Huoranszki , F. (2011) ‘Weakness and compulsion: the essential difference’, Philosophical Explorations 14(1):81-97.
Kane, R. (2007) ‘Libertarianism’, In J. Fisher, R. Kane , D. Pereboom & M. Vargas (eds.)Four Views on Free Will, Oxford: Blackwell Publication, pp.5-44.
McDowell, J., (1998),’Values and Secondary Qualities’, In Mind, Value and Reality, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Mele, A. (1995) Autonomous Agents, New York: Oxford University Press.
Mele, A. (1987) Irrationality, New York: Oxford University Press.
Mele, A. (1983) ‘Akrasia, Reasons, and Causes, Philosophical Studies 44 (3): 345-68.
Mele, A. (2010) ‘Akrasia and Weakness of Will’, Philosophical Studies 150(3):391-404.
May, J. & Holton R. (2012) ‘What in the World is Weakness of Will?’, Philosophical Studies 157 (3):341-60
Matthews, G. (1966) ‘Weakness of Will’, Mind 75 (299): 405-419.
Plato (1981) Protagoras, Benjamin Jowett trans., in Great books, vol.7, Prometheus Books.
Stoyles , B. (2007) ‘Aristotle, Akrasia, and the Place of Desire in Moral Reasoning’ Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10:195–207.
Wall D. (2009) ‘Akrasia and self-control’, Philosophical Explorations 12 (1): 69–78.
Watson, G. (1977) ‘Skepticism About Weakness of Will’ Philosophical Review 86: 316–39.
Wiggins, D. (1978), ‘Weakness of Will, Commensurability, and the Objects of Deliberation and Desire’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 79: 251–77; reprinted in his Needs, Values, Truth (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987), pp. 239 – 67.
Yuval E. , (2009) ‘Virtue and Continence’ , Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12:137–151.