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 pervasiveâ€”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 â€œproprietyâ€ mechanism: Humans demand self-respect and, hence, exercise self-command over appetites and emotions.
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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