Are we rationally required to exercise self-control?
Daniel B Cohen (Charles Sturt University), Daniel Cohen (Charles Sturt University)

October 6, 2022, 4:15pm - 6:15pm
Philosophy Discipline, The University of Melbourne

Old Arts, North Theatre
The University of Melbourne


University of Melbourne

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ABSTRACT: Our preferences sometimes reverse. For instance, I might prefer to get started on my grading tomorrow -- but when tomorrow arrives, I’ll likely prefer to get started the following day instead. We are often encouraged to exercise self-control in cases like these -- to somehow get ourselves to act according to ‘yesterday’s’ preferences. But is self-control ever, in fact, rationally required? I will argue that no matter how we fill out the case -- for instance, by supposing that I resolve today to get started tomorrow or that I will tomorrow judge that I ought to get started then -- it doesn’t follow that a failure of self-control is in any way irrational.

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