David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In Thom Brooks (ed.), New Waves in Ethics. Palgrave MacMillan 210--230 (2011)
Citizens of liberal, affluent societies are regularly encouraged to support reforms meant to improve conditions for badly-off people in the developing world. Our economic and political support is solicited for causes such as: banning child labor, implementing universal primary education, closing down sweatshops and brothels, etc. But what if the relevant populations or individuals in the developing world do not support these particular reforms or aid programs? What if they would strongly prefer other reforms and programs, or would rank the various benefits that might be offered differently than seems reasonable to the Western, liberal supporters of these campaigns and organizations? What is the proper liberal response here? I argue that the proper liberal response is to support those programs and reforms that the global poor most value. The bulk of the paper is devoted to arguing against the popular liberal argument which states that we can safely disregard the preferences of the oppressed when they seem very unreasonable because these individuals suffer from “adaptive preferences.” This typically is taken to mean that their preferences are “not their own” in an important sense. I put forward various different proposals for why adaptive preferences can be safely dismissed, but ultimately argue that they are not persuasive. And if it is no longer legitimate to appeal to adaptive preferences as a basis for disregarding what oppressed people want, then I argue that to do so is straightforward paternalism, and so is unjustifiable in all but the most extreme cases. Finally, I argue for the following concrete recommendations: Given that resources are not infinite, we should (1) Support programs that give oppressed people increased access to information, such as access to technology, (2) support those reforms and aid programs that the oppressed themselves regard as most important, with special emphasis on those opportunities for education that they deem valuable, and (3) refrain from supporting coercive policies intended to thwart adaptive preferences.
|Keywords||adaptive preferences global philanthropy liberalism|
|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
Lisa H. Schwartzman (2007). Can Liberalism Account for Women's “Adaptive Preferences”? Social Philosophy Today 23:175-186.
Donald W. Bruckner (2009). In Defense of Adaptive Preferences. Philosophical Studies 142 (3):307 - 324.
Hugh Breakey (2010). Adaptive Preferences and the Hellenistic Insight. Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics 12 (1):29-39.
Donald Bruckner (2011). Second-Order Preferences and Instrumental Rationality. Acta Analytica 26 (4):367-385.
Ann Levey (2005). Liberalism, Adaptive Preferences, and Gender Equality. Hypatia 20 (4):127-143.
D. M. Hausman (2011). Mistakes About Preferences in the Social Sciences. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 41 (1):3-25.
H. E. Baber (2010). Worlds, Capabilities and Well-Being. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (4):377 - 392.
Margaret P. Gilbert (2001). Collective Preferences, Obligations, and Rational Choice. Economics and Philosophy 17 (1):109-119.
Jordan Howard Sobel (2004). On Wakker's Critique of Allais-Preferences. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 4 (2):253-272.
Jeffrey Friedman (1991). Accounting for Political Preferences: Cultural Theory Vs. Cultural History. Critical Review 5 (3):325-351.
H. E. Baber (2007). Adaptive Preference. Social Theory and Practice 33 (1):105-126.
Jonathan Aldred (2007). Intransitivity and Vague Preferences. Journal of Ethics 11 (4):377 - 403.
Dale Dorsey (2010). Preferences, Welfare, and the Status-Quo Bias. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (3):535-554.
Jelle de Boer (2012). A Strawson–Lewis Defence of Social Preferences. Economics and Philosophy 28 (3):291-310.
Added to index2011-06-23
Total downloads231 ( #4,695 of 1,725,168 )
Recent downloads (6 months)78 ( #11,361 of 1,725,168 )
How can I increase my downloads?