Childrens' book philosophy 9: Frog and Toad on Akrasia

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“Frog,” said Toad, “let us eat one very last cookie, and then we will stop.” Frog and Toad ate one very last cookie. “We must stop eating!” cried Toad as he ate another.

 “Yes,” said Frog, reaching for a cookie, “we need will power.” “What is will power?” asked Toad. “Will power is trying hard not to do something that really want to do,” said Frog. “You mean like trying not to eat all of these cookies?” asked Toad. “Right,” said Frog.

Frog put the cookies in a box. “There,” he said. “Now we will note eat any more cookies.” “But we can open the box,” said Toad. “That is true,” said Frog. Frog got a ladder. He put the box up on high shelf. “There,” said Frog. “Now we will not eat any more cookie.” “But we can climb the ladder and take the box down from the shelf and cut the string and open the box,” said Toad.

“That is true,” said Frog. Frog climbed the ladder and took the box down from the shelf. He cuts the string and opened the box. Frog took the box outside. He shouted in a loud voice, “HEY BIRDS. HERE ARE COOKIES!”

Birds came from everywhere. They picked up all the cookies in their beaks and flew away.

“Now we have no more cookies to eat,” said Toad sadly. “Not even one,” “Yes,” said Frog, “but we have lots of will power.”

“You may keep it all, Frog,” said Toad. “I am going home now to bake a cake.”

From Frog and Toad Together, by A. Lobel

For a philosophical analysis of this tale see J. Kennett and M. Smith, "Frog and Toad Lose Control," Analysis 56 (1996).

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