PHIL 181 - Lecture 11 - Weakness of the Will and Procrastination

Lecture 11 - Weakness of the Will and Procrastination


Professor Gendler begins with a review of the situationist critique of virtue ethics,which claims that character plays only a minimal role in determining behavior. She then presents some countervailing evidence suggesting that certain personality traits appear to be quite stable over time, including work by Walter Mischel showing a strong correlation between an early capacity to delay gratification and subsequent academic and social success. Delayed gratification remains the topic of discussion as Professor Gendler shifts to Aristotle’s account of weakness of will and contemporary behavioral economics work on hyperbolic discounting. In the final segment of the lecture, drawing on work by Aristotle, Walter Mischel, George Ainslie and Robert Nozick, she presents several strategies for self-regulation: preventing yourself from acting on the temptation, manipulating incentive structures, and acting on principles.



Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book IV, Ch. 1-4, 6-10

Nozick, “How to Do Things with Principles”, pp. 3, 9-26, 35-40

Ariely, “Procrastination, Deadlines, and Performance: Self-Control by Precommittment”, pp. 219-224

Ariely, Predictably Irrational, “The Problem of Procrastination and Self-Control” Ch. 6 (pp. 109-126)

Mischel, “Delay of Gratification in Children”, pp. 202-211

Course Media





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mov [100MB]

High Bandwidth Video

mov [500MB]