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Willing, Wanting, Waiting [Hardcover]

Richard Holton

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Book Description

23 April 2009
Richard Holton provides a unified account of intention, choice, weakness of will, strength of will, temptation, addiction, and freedom of the will. Drawing on recent psychological research, he argues that, rather than being the pinnacle of rationality, the central components of the will are there to compensate for our inability to make or maintain sound judgments. Choice is understood as the capacity to form intentions even in the absence of judgments of what action is best. Weakness of will is understood as the failure to maintain an intention, or more specifically, a resolution, in the face of temptation-where temptation typically involves a shift in judgment as to what is best, or in the case of addiction, a disconnection between what is judged best and what is desired. Strength of will is the corresponding ability to maintain a resolution, 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.

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Review

Philosophically sophisticated and empirically up-to-date Tim Bayne, Times Literary Supplement Holton develops a unique account of the will and related phenomena that is both empirically informed and philosophically rigorous in a way that is accessible to an interdisciplinary audience. Joshua May, Metapsychology It is a pleasure when a path-breaking book is written in a relaxed and communicative style that persuades the reader not by intimidating intricacy but by clarity and good sense... [this] book can be recommended to anyone keen on fresh insights. A. W. Price, The Philosopher's Magazine This book is beautifully written, stimulating, incisive and convincing. Holton is terrific at finding excellent examples, many from literature, to prove or to illustrate his points: the book is embellished with passages or quotations from everyone from Somerset Maugham and Gustave Flaubert to A.S. Byatt and Martin Amis. Willing, Wanting, Waiting is a true pleasure to read, and should not be missed by anyone interested in the philosophy of mind or action. Sarah Stroud, The Philosophical Quarterly This book is primarily about intention and a special sort of intention called resolution. The writing is clear and engaging. Its observations and analyses strike me as mostly acute and sensible. It makes good use of imaginary examples and empirical work from psychology. Overall it is an illuminating work from which anyone interested in its topic can reap considerable profit without undue struggle. Carl Ginet, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

About the Author

Richard Holton is Professor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has previously taught at Monash University, the Australian National University, the University of Sheffield, and the University of Edinburgh.

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