January 26, 2009               

AMHERST, Mass.—Chandra Sekhar Sripada, a research psychiatric resident at the University of Michigan, will give a talk titled “Self, Control Thyself: Weakness of Will and the Failure of Resistance” at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12, in Pruyne Lecture Hall of Amherst College’s Fayerweather Hall. Organized by the Amherst College Department of Philosophy, Sripada’s talk is the third event in a lecture series on the Philosophy and Science of Weakness of the Will. It is free and open to the public.

In his lecture, Sripada plans to develop what he calls a scientific account of weakness of will and clarify the psychoneural basis of this “remarkable and frankly puzzling capacity.” “Quantities of empirical research have emerged in psychology, neuroscience and psychiatry and they shed valuable light on the mechanistic underpinnings of weakness of will,” he explained, adding that he defines “weakness of will” as a failure of resistance. “Converging lines of [such studies] indicate that failures of resistance are often not nearly as free and intentional as we ordinarily think.”

Sripada earned his Ph.D. in philosophy at Rutgers University, focusing on issues in meta-ethics and moral psychology. He also completed his psychiatric internship at the University of California, San Francisco. His current studies at the University of Michigan use neuroimaging methods to understand the brain basis of emotion regulation and impulsivity in psychiatric disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and substance abuse.

This talk is made possible by the Forry and Micken Fund in Philosophy and Science, established in 1983 by Carol Micken and John I. Forry ’66 to promote the study of philosophical issues arising out of new developments in the sciences, including mathematics, and issues in the philosophy and history of science.