This is the web page for the graduate course 24.502 Topics in Metaphysics & Ethics (Moral Psychology) given by Richard Holton at MIT, Fall Semester 2005. For copyright reasons, many of the links here will only work for students enrolled for this course. The class will take place on Monday afternoons, 2.00 - 5.00, in 32-d841 (the Eighth Floor Seminar Room).

Week One: Anscombe on Intention

Core Reading

    Anscombe Intention Second Edition, 1963; Harvard University Press reprint, 2000.

Further Readings

Week Two: Intention & Belief

Core Readings

Further Reading

    For Bratman's discussion of the relation of intention to belief see Intention, Plans and Practical Reason (Harvard University Press, 1987), pp.35-41

    For Bratman's take on how to relate acting intentionally to acting with an intention see 'Two Faces of Intention' Philosophical Review (1984) JSTOR

    To see the whole of Bratman's position there is no alternative to reading Intention, Plans and Practical Reason; but for a good summary see the review by David Velleman in the Philosophical Review 1991, JSTOR

    For alternatives that try to accommodate intentions within a belief/desire framework see:

Week Three: Akrasia

Core readings

Further Readings
    G. Watson, 'Skepticism about Weakness of Will', Philosophical Review 1977, JSTOR

Week Four: Weakness of Will

    R. Holton, 'Intention and Weakness of Will', Journal of Philosophy 1999 Online version

Week Five: Strength of Will, Descriptive Issues

    George Ainslie 'A Selectionist Model of the Ego: Implications for Self-Control' forthcoming in N Sebanz and W. Prinz (eds.) Disorders of Volition (MIT Press).

    M. Muraven and R. Baumeister, 'Self-Regulation and Depletion of Limited Resources: Does Self-Control Resemble a Muscle?', Psychological Bulletin 126 (2000) pp. 24759. Available from the Baumeister/Tice Lab Homepage (follow the link to 'Lab Publications', then scroll down to the heading 'Ego Depletion')

    R. Holton 'How is Strength of Will Possible?' in S. Stroud and C Tappolet (eds.) Weakness of Will and Practical Irrationality (Oxford University Press, 2003). [Acrobat version]

Week Six: Strength of Will, Normative Issues

Core Reading

    G. Kavka, 'The Toxin Puzzle', Analysis 43 (1983), pp. 33-6.

    M. Bratman 'Toxin, Temptation and the Stability of Intention' in Faces of Intention pp. 58-90.

    J. Broome, 'Are Intentions Reasons? And How Should We Cope with Incommensurable Values?', in C. Morris and A. Ripstein (eds.), Practical Rationality and Preference: Essays for David Gauthier (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) pp. 98-120. Online version

    R. Holton 'Rational Resolve' forthcoming in The Philosophical Review [Acrobat version]

Week Seven: Addiction

Core Reading

Additional Reading

Session Eight: Free Will

Core Reading

Week Nine: Strawson

Core Readings

Week Ten: Libertarianism, Choice


Week Eleven: Identification


Week Twelve: Self-Deception


    A. Mele, 'Real Self-Deception', Behavioural and Brain Sciences 20, 1997 pp. 91-136. Electronic Version (Note: this is a pre-print, and doesn't include the peer commentary that appeared with the printed version).

    R. Holton, 'What is the role of the self in self-deception?' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 2000/1. Acrobat version

    Daniel Dyke The Mystery of Selfe-Deceiving

    , a scan of the Bodleian edition of 1614, from the Early English Books Online database, for anyone who gets seriously interested.

Last updated 21 October 2005