[CUA Office of Public Affairs]   

                                                                                    Sept. 9, 2004


2004 Philosophy Lecture Series Confronts Weakness of Will


Akrasia — the Greek expression for moral weakness — is both a philosophical problem and a dilemma of everyday life. Recent decades have seen a resurgence in the study of weakness of will with seminal publications by philosophers such as Richard M. Hare in Britain and Donald Davidson in the United States.


This year the Annual Fall Lecture Series at Catholic University’s School of Philosophy confronts the issue of weakness of will, which reflects the fact that people, despite knowing the right thing to do from a moral standpoint, often do the opposite. A challenging philosophical problem, weakness of will contradicts the assumption that people will always act according to their knowledge of what’s best.


“The lecture series reflects the longstanding tradition of excellence at Catholic University’s School of Philosophy,” says Rev. Kurt Pritzl, O.P., dean of the school. “The focus of this year’s lectures is of particular interest because it shows philosophy directly related to daily life and experience.”


Over the course of the lecture series — a tradition at Catholic University since 1967 —distinguished philosophers from around the United States and Canada will assess the most significant solutions to the problems related to weakness of will throughout the history of western thought. The speakers will focus on the relationship of moral weakness to psychology, ethical theory, literature and neurology.


Previous lecture series have focused on truth, freedom and the human person, and the rule of law.  


Open to the public, all lectures are at 2 p.m. in the Life Cycle Institute Auditorium. Kenneth Dorter of the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, will inaugurate the 2004 lecture series on Sept. 10, 2004, with an address titled “How Weak is the Will in Plato’s Republic?” The other lectures, dates and names of the speakers follow.


            Sept. 17: Alfred Mele, Florida State University, “Akratic Action and Libertarianism”

Sept. 24: Lloyd Gerson, University of Toronto, “Weakness of the Will and the Neoplatonic Synthesis” 

Oct. 1: Bonnie Kent, University of California, Irvine, “Appetite, Anger, and Shame: Aquinas on Moral Weakness” 

Oct. 8: Tobias Hoffmann, The Catholic University of America, “Henry of Ghent and Duns Scotus on Weakness of Will”

Oct. 15: Anne Hartle, Emory University, “Montaigne's Marvelous Weakness”

Oct: 22: John McCarthy, The Catholic University of America, “Descartes’ ‘Feeble Spirits’ ”

Oct. 29: Thomas Hill, University of North Carolina, “Kant on Weakness of Will”

Nov. 5: Tracy Strong, University of California, San Diego, “Nietzsche and the Impotence of the Will to Power”


Nov. 12: Giuseppe Mazzotta, Yale University, “Dante: Healing the Wounded Will”

Nov. 19: Richard Restak, George Washington University, “Weakness of the Will: A Neurologist's Perspective”


Dec. 3: Alasdair MacIntyre, University of Notre Dame, “Conflicts of Desire”


Catholic University’s School of Philosophy is one of only three philosophy faculties in the country organized as a separate school, along with those at Cornell and the University of Southern California.


CUA’s philosophy school is unique for courses and scholarship grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition with an abiding concern for the relation between faith and reason, the intelligibility of nature, and the possibility of an ethics and political philosophy based on rational insight into human nature.


The lecture series is made possible by a generous grant from the Franklin J. Matchette Foundation and support from the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation and the George Dougherty Foundation. For additional information, contact the Office of the Dean, School of Philosophy, at 202-319-5259 or philosophy@cua.edu.






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Revised: 9/10/20044

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The Catholic University of America,
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