It seems plausible that a person might do something they don't want to do, without any external pressure. For example, a person on a diet might cheat and eat a bar of chocolate, even though they don't want to cheat; or a person trying to quit smoking might smoke a cigarette even if they don't want to smoke the cigarette. And yet, these are actions which require conscious activity in order to complete - these aren't accidents, and so it seems fair to say that, on some level, even if the person on a diet doesn't want to eat the chocolate, he or she does, in fact, want to eat the chocolate. This seems absolutely contradictory - yet surely, everybody has, at some point or another in their life, given in to some temptation despite not wanting to, or otherwise done something that they, in strong terms, did not want to do, even though they weren't forced to do so. How, then, are we to make sense of such situations? It seems logically impossible to both want to eat something and to want to refrain from eating something; in effect, the statement "I want to eat that chocolate bar" is simultaneously true and false. What sorts of statements can be both at once? Is it enough to just say that people have many different, competing wants? Is the will, then, a fractured entity, or not an entity at all? Would not notions such as guilt and responsibility need to be radically overlooked if we were to assume that a person's will is just a fractured jumble of dozens of competing, mutually exclusive desires?

Excellent question(s)! To begin, it may be mis-leading to think of the "will" as an entity, whether substantial or framented. It is perhaps more plausable to think of the "will" as an abstract way of referring to a person's intentional powers, so that to say that a person has free will or any kind of will, is to refer to a person having the power to act and, in the case of free will, the power to act in more than one way (to do an act or not do an act). There is a massive literature addressing your important questions going back to Socrates. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were suspicious of claims that people can do that which they know (or strongly believe) are wrong. (There is some controversy over interpreting Aristotle on this, but I suggest he stood with his teacher, Plato, on this.) Two promising approaches to this problem (which is sometimes called the problem of weakness of will or Akrasia, Greek for "lack of self-control") involve distinguishing levels of desires. Harry Frankfurt (Princeton), for example, distinguishes between first and second order levels of desire. On this view, the person wants on the first level to eat the chocolate bar, but on a higher level, he or she does not. Frankfurt goes on to portray moral self-struggle with determining which desire is the one that you most identify with versus the one that you consider alien. This might see odd, but I think it quite common. When I gave us smoking, I had to think of myself as a non-smoker thus siding with the desire not to smoke and saw occasional lapses as truly lapses and not reflecting my ultimate, deepest commitment. Another way of addressing akrasia might involve a bit of fragmentation. Someone might have to consciously will (desire / intend) X in order to do the act, but at the same time (sub-consciously) the person may know that what they are doing is wrong.

As for guilt and responsibility, I suggest that recognizing that we sometimes cave in to first order desires or act against what we know (deep down or implicitly) to be wrong, need not throw us into chaos. A person may have "a factured jumble of dozens of mutually exclusive desires" and yet be fully accountable for why he or she acts on base or immoral desires rather than resolve with greater will power only to act on that which is good or permissible.

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