Adaptive Preferences and the Hellenistic Insight
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics 12 (1):29-39 (2010)
Adaptive preferences are preferences formed in response to circumstances and opportunities – paradigmatically, they occur when we scale back our desires so they accord with what is probable or at least possible. While few commentators are willing to wholly reject the normative significance of such preferences, adaptive preferences have nevertheless attracted substantial criticism in recent political theory. The groundbreaking analysis of Jon Elster charged that such preferences are not autonomous, and several other commentators have since followed Elster’s lead. On a second front, Capacity Theorists Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen have objected that adaptive preferences lead people away from objective goods and constitute an impediment to progressive change in developing countries. In this paper I argue that the criticisms of Elster, Sen and Nussbaum fail on the one hand to take into account what may be positively said in favour of this type of preference formation, and fail on the other hand to distinguish between different types of psychological changes – with the result that many of the critiques offered have a narrower purview than is currently allowed. My analysis of adaptive preferences, even in their most ideal form, is however not entirely positive; I adduce reasons why we can be cautious about allowing adaptive preferences to play certain types of roles in political processes, even as we accept those very preferences as normative and autonomous for the agent holding them. [International scholars without access to the AJPAE are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org for a pdf copy of this article.]
|Keywords||Adaptive Preferences Epicureanism Stoicism Autonomy Happiness Jon Elster Capacity Theorists Utilitarianism Rule of Law Normative Resilience of Property|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Donald W. Bruckner (2009). In Defense of Adaptive Preferences. Philosophical Studies 142 (3):307 - 324.
Lisa H. Schwartzman (2007). Can Liberalism Account for Women's “Adaptive Preferences”? Social Philosophy Today 23:175-186.
Peter Stone (2003). The Impossibility of Rational Politics? Politics, Philosophy and Economics 2 (2):239-263.
Donald Bruckner (2011). Second-Order Preferences and Instrumental Rationality. Acta Analytica 26 (4):367-385.
Lisa L. Fuller (2011). Knowing Their Own Good: Preferences & Liberty in Global Ethics. In Thom Brooks (ed.), New Waves in Ethics. Palgrave MacMillan 210--230.
H. E. Baber (2010). Worlds, Capabilities and Well-Being. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (4):377 - 392.
Franz Dietrich & Christian List (2013). Where Do Preferences Come From? International Journal of Game Theory 42 (3):613-637.
Martha C. Nussbaum (2001). Symposium on Amartya Sen's Philosophy: 5 Adaptive Preferences and Women's Options. Economics and Philosophy 17 (1):67-88.
D. M. Hausman (2011). Mistakes About Preferences in the Social Sciences. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 41 (1):3-25.
Jonathan Aldred (2007). Intransitivity and Vague Preferences. Journal of Ethics 11 (4):377 - 403.
Tore Sandven (1999). Autonomy, Adaptation, and Rationality a Critical Discussion of Jon Elster's Concept of "Sour Grapes". Philosophy of the Social Sciences 29 (1):3-31.
Margaret P. Gilbert (2001). Collective Preferences, Obligations, and Rational Choice. Economics and Philosophy 17 (1):109-119.
Philippe Mongin (1991). Rational Choice Theory Considered as Psychology and Moral Philosophy. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 21 (1):5-37.
Tore Sandven (1999). Autonomy, Adaptation, and Rationality-a Critical Discussion of Jon Elster's Concept of "Sour Grapes," Part II. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 29 (2):173-205.
Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.
Added to index2010-12-01
Total downloads1 ( #673,953 of 1,781,386 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #295,005 of 1,781,386 )
How can I increase my downloads?