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Breakdown of Will
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  • 17 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 272 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.4 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 153.8
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: BF611 .A295 2001
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Will
    • Choice (Psychology)
    • Self-defeating behavior

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521596947 | ISBN-10: 0521596947)

DOI: 10.2277/0521596947

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

 (Stock level updated: 03:56 GMT, 27 November 2015)


Ainslie argues that our responses to the threat of our own inconsistency determine the basic fabric of human culture. He suggests that individuals are more like populations of bargaining agents than like the hierarchical command structures envisaged by cognitive psychologists. The forces that create and constrain these populations help us understand so much that is puzzling in human action and interaction: from addictions and other self-defeating behaviors to the experience of willfulness, from pathological over-control and self-deception to subtler forms of behavior such as altruism, sadism, gambling, and the 'social construction' of belief. This book integrates approaches from experimental psychology, philosophy of mind, microeconomics, and decision science to present one of the most profound and expert accounts of human irrationality available. It will be of great interest to philosophers and an important resource for professionals and students in psychology, economics and political science.

• Ainslie's work, especially his earlier work for Cambridge, received a lot of attention from psychologists and philosophers • This book is more accessible and offers treatment on a wider range of topics • Like Elster - much interdisciplinary appeal: philosophy, psychology, economics, health sciences, political science


Preface; Part I. Breakdowns of Will: The Puzzle of Akrasia: 1. Introduction; 2. The dichotomy at the root of decision science: do we make choices by destres or by judgments?; 3. The warp in how we evaluate the future; 4. The warp can create involuntary behaviors: pains, hungers, emotions; Part II. A Breakdown of the Will: The Components of Intertemporal Bargaining: 5. The elementary interaction of interests; 6. Sophisticated bargaining among internal interests; 7. The subjective experience of intertemporal bargaining; 8. Getting evidence about a nonlinear motivational system; Part III. The Ultimate Breakdown of Will: Nothing Fails Like Success: 9. The downside of willpower; 10. An efficient will undermines appetite; 11. The need to maintain appetite eclipses the will; 12. Conclusions; Notes; References; Indexes.


'This book is definitely worth reading and food for thought. It raises and sheds light on difficult issues that should be of interest to anybody concerned with human behaviour …' Practical Philosophy

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