Purdue University Graduate School
S.Bennett Dissertation June2020.pdf (2.27 MB)

With and Without Self-Control: The Aristotelian Character Types of Akrasia and Enkrateia

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posted on 2020-08-05, 18:57 authored by Samuel C BennettSamuel C Bennett

My dissertation analyzes the overlooked character types of akrasia (un-self-control) and enkrateia (self-control) in Aristotle’s ethics. In Chapter 1, I argue for the thesis that akrasia and enkrateia are character types, or settled psychological dispositions, definable in terms of unique un-self-controlled and self-controlled relations to choice-making. In Chapters 2 and 3, I argue for the thesis that agents do not express these character types only in temperance’s practical domain; rather, agents can express akrasia and enkrateia in any practical domain where one’s reason can conflict with one’s desire, so the character types have wide ranges of expression. More specifically, in Chapter 2, I develop a distinction between strict forms of the character types, which agents express in temperance’s practical domain, and loose forms of the character types, which agents express in other practical domains (e.g., in courage’s practical domain). I also argue that the strict and loose forms of each of the character types are united according to the ontological and terminological relation of metaphor, or inclusive resemblance. In Chapter 3, I draw two lines of psychological justification for the view that akrasia and enkrateia are wide-ranging character types and respond to some scholarly objections. In Chapter 4, I build an account of ethical practical syllogisms and differentiate them from non-ethical practical syllogisms; I argue that an agent expresses her character type through each feature of an ethical practical syllogism (i.e., not only through the enacted choice that concludes an ethical practical syllogism, but also through the propositions she exercises in it). Finally, in Chapter 5, I construct and analyze loose akratic and enkratic practical syllogisms in a variety of practical domains to show that akrasia and enkrateia are character types with wide ranges of expression.


Bilsland Dissertation Fellowship


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Philosophy

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Patricia Curd

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Daniel H. Frank

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Patrick Kain

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Mi-Kyoung Lee

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