Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Eddy Nahmias

Second Advisor

Neil Van Leeuwen

Third Advisor

Andrea Scarantino


Experimental studies on willpower confirm the Strength Model of Self-Control, which claims that willpower depends on limited physiological resources. Exercising willpower depletes these resources, which impairs further exercises of willpower. This phenomenon is called “ego-depletion.” As a result, depleting these resources impairs further exercises of executive control. My thesis argues that this phenomenon has two important philosophical consequences: First, ego-depletion provides evidence against the Humean approach to motivation, according to which people always act according to their strongest desires. Second, people suffering from ego-depletion are not fully responsible for failures of self-control.