The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination

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When we fail to achieve our goals, procrastination is often the culprit. But how exactly is procrastination to be understood? It has been described as imprudent, irrational, inconsistent, and even immoral, but there has been no sustained philosophical debate concerning the topic.

This edited volume starts in on the task of integrating the problem of procrastination into philosophical inquiry. The focus is on exploring procrastination in relation to agency, rationality, and ethics-topics that philosophy is well-suited to address. Theoretically and empirically informed analyses are developed and applied with the aim of shedding light on a vexing practical problem that generates a great deal of frustration, regret, and harm. Some of the key questions that are addressed include the following: How can we analyze procrastination in a way that does justice to both its voluntary and its self-defeating dimensions? What kind of practical failing is procrastination? Is it a form of weakness of will? Is it the product of fragmented agency? Is it a vice? Given the nature of procrastination, what are the most promising coping strategies?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This collection is good reading for anyone who would like to do philosophy on the subject of procrastination or who seeks to procrastinate her work by reading interesting things." —Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195376685
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/14/2010
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Chrisoula Andreou is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Utah.

Mark D. White is Professor in the Department of Political Science, Economics, and Philosophy at the College of Staten Island, CUNY.

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Table of Contents

Notes on the Contributors
Introduction, Chrisoula Andreou (University of Utah) and Mark D. White (College of Staten Island, CUNY)

Part I
1. Procrastination: The Basic Impulse, George Ainslie (Veterans Affairs Medical Center)
2. Economic Models of Procrastination, Don Ross (University of Cape Town and University of Alabama at Birmingham)
3. Is Procrastination Weakness of Will? Sarah Stroud (McGill University)
4. Intransitive Preferences, Vagueness, and the Structure of Procrastination, Duncan MacIntosh (Dalhousie University)
5. Bad Timing, Jon Elster (Columbia University)

Part II
6. Prudence, Procrastination, and Rationality, Olav Gjelsvik (University of Oslo)
7. Procrastination and Personal Identity, Christine Tappolet (Université de Montréal)
8. The Vice of Procrastination, Sergio Tenenbaum (University of Toronto)
9. Virtue for Procrastinators, Elijah Millgram (University of Utah)
10. Procrastination as Vice, Jennifer A. Baker (College of Charleston)

Part III
11. Overcoming Procrastination through Planning, Frank Wieber (University of Konstanz, Germany) and Peter M. Gollwitzer (New York University)
12. Coping with Procrastination, Chrisoula Andreou (University of Utah)
13. Resisting Procrastination: Kantian Autonomy and the Role of the Will, Mark D. White (College of Staten Island, CUNY)
14. Procrastination and the Extended Will, Joseph Heath (University of Toronto) and Joel Anderson (Utrecht University, Netherlands)
15. Procrastination and the Law, Manuel A. Utset (Florida State University College of Law)


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