Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

December 6, 2004

Whitworth Philosophy Professor's New Book Explores Weakness of Human Will

Whitworth Associate Professor of Philosophy Keith Wyma investigates the human condition of weakness of will in his new book, Crucible of Reason: Intentional Action, Practical Rationality, and Weakness of Will.

"Weakness of will has always been a particularly troubling moral flaw in my own character; so, honestly, I first started researching the problem because I wanted to better understand, and hopefully deal with, my own situation," Wyma says.

Weakness of will seems to be an inherent part of the human condition; we know what we ought to do, and yet, often we knowingly, willingly fall short in actual practice, Wyma maintains. He is careful to clarify which actions count as weak-willed: they must be performed intentionally - which is supposed to require judging their performance to be rational - even as they are judged as something that rationally ought not to be done.

In his book, Wyma explores how this conundrum can be explained, particularly in light of the challenge - a "crucible of reason" - it presents to systematic explanations of intentional actions. Wyma subjects the thought of three prominent intentional-action theorists, R.M. Hare, Donald Davidson and Thomas Aquinas, to this crucible of reason to see whether and how they can account for weakness of will.

Wyma's in-depth study of Hare, Davidson and Aquinas on this important issue is a major contribution to understanding practical rationality and intentional action, according to the book's publisher, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Crucible of Reason is available online from the publisher at www.rowmanlittlefield.com or at www.amazon.com.

Wyma earned both a Ph.D. in philosophy (with a focus on ethics and action theory) and an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, as well as a B.A. in philosophy and history from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he was a National Merit Scholar. He is competent in Greek and Latin and specializes in ethics, philosophy of action, philosophy of religion, and history of philosophy. He has taught at Whitworth College for seven years.

Wyma previously published "Innocent Sinfulness, Guilty Sin: Original Sin and Divine Justice" in Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil (Eerdmans 2004) and "Moral Responsibility and Leeway for Action" in American Philosophical Quarterly (1997).

Wyma's next book, to be published by Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., addresses ethics in the Wall Street professions.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Keith Wyma, associate professor of philosophy, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4772 or kwyma@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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