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Weakness Of Will

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  • Elias Khalil

Abstract

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 pervasive???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.

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File URL: http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/eco/research/papers/2006/0606weaknessofwill.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Monash University, Department of Economics in its series Monash Economics Working Papers with number 06/06.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: 02 Apr 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2006-06

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Related research

Keywords: property of others (justice); property of future self (prudence); decision-action gap (weakness of will); mechanisms (precommitment and propriety); trust; appetites and emotions; libertarian paternalism.;

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References

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  1. Khalil, Elias L., 1996. "Respect, admiration, aggrandizement: Adam Smith as economic psychologist," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 555-577, November.
  2. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-95, December.
  3. Khalil, Elias L., 1990. "Beyond Self-Interest and Altruism: A Reconstruction of Adam Smith's Theory of Human Conduct," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(02), pages 255-273, October.
  4. Khalil, Elias L, 1997. "Is the Firm an Individual?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(4), pages 519-44, July.
  5. Frank, Robert H, 1987. "If Homo Economicus Could Choose His Own Utility Function, Would He Want One with a Conscience?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 593-604, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Elias Khalil, 2006. "Moral Outrage," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 07/06, Monash University, Department of Economics.

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