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Weakness of Will

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journal contribution
posted on 05.06.2017 by Khalil, Elias L.
The dominant view regards weakness of will an anomaly facing the standard theory of rationality. The paper argues the opposite: What is anomalous is that weakness of will is not pervasive enough. In a simple model, the paper shows that weakness of will is the dominant strategy in a game between current self and future self. This leads to the motivating question of the paper: Why is weakness of will is not pervasivev - given that precommitment and punishment are not sufficiently pervasive to remedy the weakness of will? The paper argues that the answer lies in what Adam Smith calls the "propriety" mechanism: Humans demand self-respect and, hence, exercise self-command over appetites and emotions.


Year of first publication



Department of Economics .