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Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 299–310 | Cite as

Want of Care: An Essay on Wayward Action

  • Gabriel S. Mendlow
Article

Abstract

Philosophers have taken little heed of the fact that people often act contrary to their better judgment not because they suffer a volitional infirmity like weakness of will or compulsion but instead because they care too little about what they judge best (they are unconcerned) or they care too much about something else (they are compromised). Unconcerned and compromised action, being varieties of akratic action that do not involve volitional infirmity, are phenomena worth examining not only in their own right but also for what they reveal about the better known varieties of akratic action for which they might easily be mistaken, such as weak-willed action and action (or inaction) that stems from accidie. Unconcern and compromise also are worth examining for what they reveal about a topic beyond philosophical psychology, namely, moral and legal accountability. Forgiveness, resentment, and retributive punishment each may have less to do with what an offender (morally) believes than with what he cares about.

Keywords

Akrasia Weakness of will Accidie Caring Forgiveness Blame 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Many people gave me valuable feedback on the material in this essay. I especially would like to thank Facundo Alonso, Paul Audi, Richard Brooks, Sarah Buss, Jules Coleman, Stephen Darwall, Tamar Gendler, Adrienne Lapidos, Jed Lewinsohn, Sarah McGrath, Tristram McPherson, Alexander Nehamas, Maurice Richter, Gideon Rosen, Alex Sarch, Scott Shapiro, Michael Smith, Patrick Weil, Rebecca Wolitz, and my anonymous reviewers.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Law SchoolUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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