Anthony trollope on akrasia, self-deception, and ethical confusion
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This essay takes as its point of departure Anthony Trollope’s tendency to reuse a version of the romantic triangle, one where a protagonist is committed to one character, becomes attracted to another, and hence delays fulfillment of the first relationship. This formal feature makes the philosophical problem of akrasia central, as the novels return repeatedly to agents who act against their own best judgment. Trollope’s novels reveal a complex array of irrationality, considering how our desires can lead to self-deception and how even judgment unbiased by desire may fail to move an agent. Perhaps most interestingly, Trollope challenges standard assumptions about rational behavior in depicting states of “ethical confusion,” where characters act irrationally precisely by acting on their best judgment. © 2014, Indiana University Press. All rights reserved.