Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

4-25-2013

Graduate Advisor

Gualtiero Piccinini

Committee

Berit Brogaard, D.M.Sci, Ph.D.

Eric Wiland, Ph.D.

Abstract

The concept of akrasia, or weakness of will, involves knowingly acting against what one judges best. This seems like a paradox of irrationality. However, I argue akrasia implies a notion of the self as a single, agentive mental object which persists across time, has a particular character, and is the subject of experience. This notion corresponds to the “folk” notion of the self invoked in everyday self-experience. However, the folk notion of the self is not only unnecessary for self-experience, it is also the source of the air of paradox surrounding akrasia. The novel view of the self introduced herein—the Multiple Occupant (MO) theory of the self—not only vindicates everyday self-experience, but also resolves the paradoxical nature weakness of will. Furthermore, the theory is suitable not only for establishing the diachronic unity of a self (even one that can act akratically) over time, but for establishing the disunity of a self in cases of dementia, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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