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Against Better Judgment: Akrasia in Anthropological Perspectives

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Volume 14

WYSE Series in Social Anthropology

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Against Better Judgment

Akrasia in Anthropological Perspectives

Edited by Patrick McKearney and Nicholas H. A. Evans

Afterword by Richard Holton

204 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80539-000-8 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (June 2023)

eISBN 978-1-80539-001-5 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“This volume opens up the important subject of akrasia, one that any approach to the relationship between judgment and action needs to address. It is a very welcome addition to the literature.” • Michael Lambek, University of Toronto


Anthropologists have long explained social behaviour as if people always do what they think is best. But what if most of these explanations only work because they are premised upon ignoring what philosophers call 'akrasia' – that is, the possibility that people might act against their better judgment? The contributors to this volume turn an ethnographic lens upon situations in which people seem to act out of line with what they judge, desire and intend. The result is a robust examination of how people around the world experience weaknesses of will, which speaks to debates in both the anthropology of ethics and moral philosophy.

Patrick McKearney is an Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam conducting research in the UK, India, and Italy. His recent articles on disability, care, ethics, and religion include publications in Social Analysis, Ethnos, and JRAI. He has also edited two special issues on cognitive disability in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology and Medical Anthropology.

Nicholas H. A. Evans is a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and author of Far From the Caliph’s Gaze: Being Ahmadi Muslim in the Holy City of Qadian (Cornell University Press, 2020).

Subject: Anthropology (General)Anthropology of ReligionMedical Anthropology


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