Willing, Wanting, Waiting

Richard Holton

This page provides abstracts for the chapters of my book, Willing, Wanting, Waiting, published by Oxford University Press,2009. [OUP website] [Amazon US] [Amazon UK]

Willing, Wanting, Waiting provides a unified account of the will, pulling together a diverse range of phenomena that have typically been treated separately: intention, resolution, choice, weakness and strength of will, temptation, addiction, and freedom of the will. Drawing on recent psychological research, it is argued that rather than being the pinnacle of rationality, these components work to compensate for our inability to make and maintain sound judgments. Choice is the capacity to form intentions even in the absence of judgment of which action is best. Weakness of will is the failure to maintain resolutions in the face of temptation—where temptation typically involves a shift in judgment as to what is best, or, in cases of addiction, a disconnection between what is judged best and what is desired. Strength of will is the corresponding ability to maintain a resolution in the face of temptation, an ability that requires the employment of a particular faculty or skill. Finally, the experience of freedom of the will is traced to the experiences of forming intentions, and of maintaining resolutions, both of which require effortful activity from the agent.