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Reconsidering Resolutions

by Alida Liberman

In Willing, Wanting, Waiting, Richard Holton lays out a detailed account of resolutions, arguing that they enable agents to resist temptation. Holton claims that temptation often leads to inappropriate shifts in judgment, and that resolutions are a special kind of first- and second-order intention pair that blocks such judgment shift. In this paper, I elaborate upon an intuitive but underdeveloped objection to Holton’s view – namely, that his view does not enable agents to successfully block the transmission of temptation in the way that he claims, because the second-order intention is as equally susceptible to temptation as the first-order intention alone would be. I appeal to independently compelling principles – principles that Holton should accept, because they help fill an important explanatory gap in his account – to demonstrate why this objection succeeds. This argument both shows us where Holton’s view goes wrong and points us to the kind of solu-tion we need. In conclusion, I sketch an alternative account of resolutions as a first-order intention paired with a second-order desire. I argue that my account is not susceptible to the same objection because a temptation that cannot be blocked by an intention can be blocked by a desire.

ISSN 1559-3061
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