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Weakness Of Will

  • Elias Khalil

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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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
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia
Phone: +61-3-9905-2493
Fax: +61-3-9905-5476
Web page: http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/eco/
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  1. 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.
  2. Armen A. Alchian & Harold Demsetz, 1971. "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organizations," UCLA Economics Working Papers 10A, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Khalil, Elias L, 1997. "Is the Firm an Individual?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(4), pages 519-44, July.
  4. 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.
  5. Khalil, Elias L., 1996. "Respect, admiration, aggrandizement: Adam Smith as economic psychologist," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 555-577, November.
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