Article responds to the criticism of speciesism that it is somehow less immoral than other -isms by showing that this is a mistake resting on an inadequate taxonomy of the various -isms. Criticizes argument by Bonnie Steinbock that preference to your own species is not immoral by comparison with racism of comparable level.
It has been argued that only moral agents can have preference-interests and this therefore excludes animals. I will present two objections to this argument. The first will show that moral agency is not necessary to have preference-interests. The second will assert that the argument that animals cannot have preference-interests has unwelcome consequences.
This paper discusses the argument for preference utilitarianism proposed by Richard Hare in Moral Thinking(Hare, 1981). G. F. Schueler (1984) and Ingmar Persson (1989) identified a serious gap in Hare’s reasoning, which might be called the No-Conflict Problem. The paper first tries to fill the gap. Then, however, starting with an idea of Zeno Vendler, the question is raised whether the gap is there to begin with. Unfortunately, this Vendlerian move does not save Hare from criticism. Paradoxically, it instead (...) endangers the whole argumentative enterprise. (shrink)
I argue that Gauthier's constrained-maximizer rationality is problematic. But standard Maximizing Rationality means one's preferences are only rational if it would not maximize on them to adopt new ones. In the Prisoner's Dilemma, it maximizes to adopt conditionally cooperative preferences. (These are detailed, with a view to avoiding problems of circularity of definition.) Morality then maximizes. I distinguish the roles played in rational choices and their bases by preferences, dispositions, moral and rational principles, the aim of rational action, and rational (...) decision rules. I argue that Maximizing Rationality necessarily structures conclusive reasons for action. Thus conations of any sort can base rational choices only if the conations are structured like a coherent preference function; rational actions maximize on such functions. Maximization-constraining dispositions cannot integrate into a coherent preference function. (shrink)
Seidenfeld (Seidenfeld, T. [1988a], Decision theory without 'Independence' or without 'Ordering', Economics and Philosophy 4: 267-290) gave an argument for Independence based on a supposition that admissibility of a sequential option is preserved under substitution of indifferents at choice nodes (S). To avoid a natural complaint that (S) begs the question against a critic of Independence, he provided an independent proof of (S) in his (Seidenfeld, T. [1988b], Rejoinder [to Hammond and McClennen], Economics and Philosophy 4: 309-315). In reply to (...) my (Rabinowicz, W. , To have one's cake and eat it too: Sequential choice and expected-utility violations, The Journal of Philosophy 92: 586-620), in which I argue that the proof is invalid, Seidenfeld (Seidenfeld, T. , Substitution of indifferent options at choice nodes and admissibility: A reply to Rabinowicz, Theory and Decision 48: 305â310 this issue) submits that I fail to give due consideration to one of the underlying assumptions of his derivation: it is meant to apply only to those cases in which the agent's preferences are stable throughout the sequential decision process. The purpose of this note is to clarify the notion of preference stability so as meet this objection. (shrink)
What are preferences and are they reasons for action? Is it rational to cooperate with others even if that entails acting against one's preferences? The dominant position in philosophy on the topic of practical rationality is that one acts so as to maximize the satisfaction of one's preferences. This view is most closely associated with the work of David Gauthier, and in this new collection of essays some of the most innovative philosophers currently working in this field explore the controversies (...) surrounding Gauthier's position. Several essays argue against influential conceptions of preference, while others suggest that received conceptions of rational action misidentify the normative significance of rules and practices. This collection will be of particular interest to philosophers of social theory and to reflective social scientists in such fields as economics, political science and psychology. (shrink)
Agents which perform inferences on the basis of unreliable information need an ability to revise their beliefs if they discover an inconsistency. Such a belief revision algorithm ideally should be rational, should respect any preference ordering over the agent’s beliefs (removing less preferred beliefs where possible) and should be fast. However, while standard approaches to rational belief revision for classical reasoners allow preferences to be taken into account, they typically have quite high complexity. In this paper, we consider belief (...) revision for agents which reason in a simpler logic than full first-order logic, namely rule-based reasoners. We show that it is possible to define a contraction operation for rule-based reasoners, which we call McAllester contraction, which satisfies all the basic Alchourrón, Gärdenfors and Makinson (AGM) postulates for contraction (apart from the recovery postulate) and at the same time can be computed in polynomial time. We prove a representation theorem for McAllester contraction with respect to the basic AGM postulates (minus recovery), and two additional postulates. We then show that our contraction operation removes a set of beliefs which is least preferred, with respect to a natural interpretation of preference. Finally, we show how McAllester contraction can be used to define a revision operation which is also polynomial time, and prove a representation theorem for the revision operation. (shrink)
To the normal reasons that we think can justify one in preferring something, x (namely, that x has objectively preferable properties, or has properties that one prefers things to have, or that x's obtaining would advance one's preferences), I argue that it can be a justifying reason to prefer x that one's very preferring of x would advance one's preferences. Here, one prefers x not because of the properties of x, but because of the properties of one's having the (...) class='Hi'>preference for x. So-revising one's preferences is rational in paradoxical choice situations like Kavka's Deterrence Paradox. I then try to meet the following objections: that this is stoicist, incoherent, bad faith; that it conflates instrumental and intrinsic value, gives wrong solutions to the problems presented by paradoxical choice situations, entails vicious regresses of value justification, falsifies value realism, makes valuing x unresponsive to x's properties, causes value conflict, conflicts with other standards of rationality, violates decision theory, counsels immorality, makes moral paradox, treats value change as voluntary, conflates first- and second-order values, is psychologically unrealistic, and wrongly presumes that paradoxical choice situations can even occur. (shrink)
The concept of preference dominates economic theory today. It performs a triple duty for economists, grounding their theories of individual behavior, welfare, and rationality. Microeconomic theory assumes that individuals act so as to maximize their utility – that is, to maximize the degree to which their preferences are satisfied. Welfare economics defines individual welfare in terms of preference satisfaction or utility, and social welfare as a function of individual preferences. Finally, economists assume that the rational act is the (...) act that maximally satisfies an individual's preferences. The habit of framing problems in terms of the concept of preference is now so entrenched that economists rarely entertain alternatives. (shrink)
Philosophers have advocated different kinds of freedom, but each has value and none should be neglected in a complete theory of freedom and responsibility. There are three kinds of freedom of preference and action that should be distinguished. A person S may fully prefer to do A at every level, and that is one kind of freedom. A person S may autonomously prefer to do A when S has the preference structure concerning doing A because S prefers to (...) have that very preference structure, and that is a second kind of freedom. A person S may prefer to do A when S could have preferred otherwise, and that is a third kind of freedom. These forms of freedom may be combined, but they are valuable and essentially independent. They all involve the metamental ascendence of preference over desire, but it is autonomous preference that makes a person the author of his or her preference. The responsibility a person has for what he or she does out of a preference for doing it depends on the kinds of freedom of preference the person has and must be ranked in terms of them. (shrink)
While very much in Sen's camp in rejecting revealed preference theory and emphasizing the complexity, incompleteness, and context dependence of preference and the intellectual costs of supposing that all the factors influencing choice can be captured by a single notion of preference, this essay contests his view that economists should recognize multiple notions of preference. It argues that Sen's concerns are better served by embracing a single conception of preference and insisting on the need for (...) analysis of the multiple factors that determine ‘preference’ so conceived. (shrink)
Preference utilitarianism is widely considered a significant advance on classical utilitarianism when it comes to explaining why it is wrong to kill people. This paper focuses attention on the nature of the preference utilitarian 'direct' objection to killing a person and on the related claim that a person's preferences are non-replaceable. I argue that the preference utilitarian case against killing people is overstated and overrated. My concluding remarks indicate the relevance of this discussion to deeper issues in (...) normative moral theory. (shrink)
This article examines Becker's thesis that the hypothesis that choices maximize expected utility relative to fixed and universal tastes provides a general framework for the explanation of behaviour. Three different models of preference revision are presented and their scope evaluated. The first, the classical conditioning model, explains all changes in preferences in terms of changes in the information held by the agent, holding fundamental beliefs and desires fixed. The second, the Jeffrey conditioning model, explains them in terms of changes (...) in both the information held by the agent and changes in her prior beliefs, holding her fundamental desires fixed. The final model, that of generalized conditioning, allows for explanations in terms of changes in the values of all three variables. Key Words: preference change • decision theory • probability • desirability • attitude change. (shrink)
The notion of ‘revealed preference’ is unclear and should be abandoned. Defenders of the theory of revealed preference have misinterpreted legitimate concerns about the testability of economics as the demand that economists eschew reference to (unobservable) subjective states. As attempts to apply revealed-preference theory to game theory illustrate with particular vividness, this demand is mistaken.
Experimental phenomenology has demonstrated that perception is much richer than stimulus. As is seen in color perception, one and the same stimulus provides more than several modes of appearance or perceptual dimensions. Similarly, there are various perceptual dimensions in form perception. Even a simple geometrical figure inducing visual illusion gives not only perceptual impressions of size, shape, slant, depth, and orientation, but also affective or aesthetic impressions. The present study reviews our experimental phenomenological work on visual illusion and experimental aesthetics, (...) and examines how aesthetic preference is influenced by stimulus factors determining visual illusions including anomalous surface and transparency as well as geometrical illusion. Along with line figures producing geometrical illusions, illusory surface figures inducing neon color spreading and transparency effects were used as test patterns. Participants made both of psychophysical judgments and of aesthetic judgments for the same test pattern. Both of geometrical illusions and aesthetic preferences were found to change similarly as a function of stimulus variables such as the number of filling lines and the size ratio of the inner and outer figural components. Also, following specific stimulus variables such as lightness contrast ratio and spatial interval between inducing figural elements (so called ``packmen''), strong effects of color spreading and transparency were accompanied with strong preferences. It seems that the paradigm to investigate aesthetic phenomena along with perceptual dimensions is useful to bridge the gap between experimental phenomenology and experimental aesthetics. (shrink)
I argue, first, that the deprived individuals whose predicaments Nussbaum cites as examples of "adaptive preference" do not in fact prefer the conditions of their lives to what we should regard as more desirable alternatives, indeed that we believe they are badly off precisely because they are not living the lives they would prefer to live if they had other options and were aware of them. Secondly, I argue that even where individuals in deprived circumstances acquire tastes for conditions (...) that we regard as bad, they are typically better off having their acquired preferences satisfied. If they are badly off it is because they cannot get what we and they, would regard as more desirable alternatives. Preference utilitarianism explains why individuals in such circumstances are badly off whether they have adapted to their deprived circumstances or not. Even if they prefer the conditions of their lives to all other available alternatives, most would prefer alternatives that are not available to them which would, on the preferentist account, make them better off. And that, on the preferentist account, is the basis for a radical critique of unjust institutions that limit people's options and prevent them from getting what they want. (shrink)
According to Singer, it is not directly wrong to kill 'non-self-conscious beings', such as lower animals, human foetuses and newborn infants, provided that any consequent loss of happiness is made good by the creation of new sentient life. In contrast, normal adult humans, being 'self-conscious', generally have a strong preference for going on living, the flouting of which cannot, Singer argues, be morally counterbalanced by creating new, equally happy individuals. Singer's case might be reinforced by taking account, not only (...) of the preference for continued life itself, but also of other preferences for whose satisfaction continued life is essential. It proves difficult, however, to find a formulation of 'preference utilitarianism' which, while lacking other obviously unacceptable consequences, supports Singer's 'non-replaceability principle'. Also, Singer's position fails adequately to accommodate our conviction that the lives of human beings are, in general, more valuable than those of other animals. Finally, his thesis that lower animals (let alone human infants) are replaceable, has decidely counterintuitive implications. (shrink)
In order to account for non-traditional preference relations the present paper develops a new, richer framework for preference relations. This new framework provides characterizations of non-traditional preference relations, such as incommensurateness and instability, that may hold when neither preference nor indifference do. The new framework models relations with swaps, which are conceived of as transfers from one alternative state to another. The traditional framework analyses dyadic preference relations in terms of a hypothetical choice between the (...) two compared alternatives. The swap framework extends this approach by analysing dyadic preference relations in terms of two hypothetical choices: the choice between keeping the first of the compared alternatives or swapping it for the second; and the choice between keeping the second alternative or swapping it for the first. (shrink)
Consider a group of people whose preferences satisfy the axioms of one of the current versions of utility theory, such as von Neumann-Morgenstern (1944), Savage (1954), or Bolker-Jeﬀrey (1965). There are political and economic contexts in which it is of interest to ﬁnd ways of aggregating these individual preferences into a group preference ranking. The question then arises of whether methods of aggregation exist in which the group’s preferences also satisfy the axioms of the chosen utility theory, and in (...) which at the same time the aggregation process satisﬁes certain plausible conditions (e.g., the Pareto conditions below). (shrink)
Preference is a key area where analytic philosophy meets philosophical logic. I start with two related issues: reasons for preference, and changes in preference, first mentioned in von Wright’s book The Logic of Preference but not thoroughly explored there. I show how these two issues can be handled together in one dynamic logical framework, working with structured two-level models, and I investigate the resulting dynamics of reason-based preference in some detail. Next, I study the foundational (...) issue of entanglement between preference and beliefs, and relate the resulting richer logics to belief revision theory and decision theory. (shrink)
One of the main themes that has emerged from behavioral decision research during the past three decades is the view that people's preferences are often constructed in the process of elicitation. This idea is derived from studies demonstrating that normatively equivalent methods of elicitation (e.g., choice and pricing) give rise to systematically different responses. These preference reversals violate the principle of procedure invariance that is fundamental to all theories of rational choice. If different elicitation procedures produce different orderings of (...) options, how can preferences be defined and in what sense do they exist? This book shows not only the historical roots of preference construction but also the blossoming of the concept within psychology, law, marketing, philosophy, environmental policy, and economics. Decision making is now understood to be a highly contingent form of information processing, sensitive to task complexity, time pressure, response mode, framing, reference points, and other contextual factors. (shrink)
We consider the role of preferences in the assessment of an agent's freedom, visualized as the opportunity for choice. After discussing several possible intuitive approaches to the problem, we explore an approach based on the notion of preference orderings that a reasonable person may possibly have. Using different sets of axioms, we characterize the rules for ranking opportunity sets in terms of freedom. We also show that certain axioms for ranking opportunity sets are incompatible.
The notion of preference occurs across many areas, including the philosophy of action, decision theory, optimality theory, and game theory. In these settings, individual preferences between worlds or actions can be used to predict behavior by rational agents. In a more abstract sense, the notion of preference also occurs in conditional logic, non-monotonic logic and belief revision theory, whose semantics involve an ordering of the possible worlds in terms of relative similarity or plausibility, or other preference-like relations.
A new possible world semantics for deontic logic is proposed. Its intuitive basis is that prohibitive predicates (such as wrong and prohibited) have the property of negativity, i.e. that what is worse than something wrong is itself wrong. The logic of prohibitive predicates is built on this property and on preference logic. Prescriptive predicates are defined in terms of prohibitive predicates, according to the well-known formula ought = wrong that not. In this preference-based deontic logic (PDL), those theorems (...) that give rise to the paradoxes of standard deontic logic (SDL) are not obtained. (E.g., O(p & q) Op & Oq and Op O(p v q)) are theorems of SDL but not of PDL. The more plausible theorems of SDL, however, can be derived in PDL. (shrink)
According to standard rational choice theory, as commonly used in political science and economics, an agent’s fundamental preferences are exogenously …xed, and any preference change over decision options is due to Bayesian information learning. Although elegant and parsimonious, this model fails to account for preference change driven by experiences or psychological changes distinct from information learning. We develop a model of non-informational preference change. Alternatives are modelled as points in some multidimensional space, only some of whose dimensions (...) play a role in shaping the agent’s preferences. Any change in these ‘motivationally salient’ dimensions can change the agent’s preferences. How it does so is described by a new representation theorem. Our model not only captures a wide range of frequently observed phenomena, but also generalizes some standard representations of preferences in political science and economics. (shrink)
When real-valued utilities for outcomes are bounded, or when all variables are simple, it is consistent with expected utility to have preferences defined over probability distributions or lotteries. That is, under such circumstances two variables with a common probability distribution over outcomes – equivalent variables – occupy the same place in a preference ordering. However, if strict preference respects uniform, strict dominance in outcomes between variables, and if indifference between two variables entails indifference between their difference and the (...) status quo, then preferences over rich sets of unbounded variables, such as variables used in the St. Petersburg paradox, cannot preserve indifference between all pairs of equivalent variables. In such circumstances, preference is not a function only of probability and utility for outcomes. Then the preference ordering is not defined in terms of lotteries. (shrink)
We contrast Bonanno’s ‘Belief Revision in a Temporal Framework’  with preference change and belief revision from the perspective of dynamic epistemic logic (DEL). For that, we extend the logic of communication and change of  with relational substitutions  for preference change, and show that this does not alter its properties. Next we move to a more constrained context where belief and knowledge can be defined from preferences [29; 14; 5; 7], prove completeness of a very expressive (...) logic of belief revision, and define a mechanism for updating belief revision models using a combination of action priority update  and preference substitution . (shrink)
Although choice and preference are distinct categories, it may in some contexts be a useful idealization to treat choices as fully determined by preferences. In order to construct a general model of such preference-based choice, a method to derive choices from preferences is needed that yields reasonable outcomes for all preference relations, even those that are incomplete and contain cycles. A generalized choice function is introduced for this purpose. It is axiomatically characterized and is shown to compare (...) favourably with alternative constructions. (shrink)
The resurgence of religion around the globe poses a challenge for both empirical and normative social scientists. For the former, the question is whether the terms at their disposal are adequate to comprehend religious self-understanding and, therefore, human motivation and conduct. For the latter, the question is whether those terms confuse or clarify the way in which religion may be brought into public dialog without violating the tenets of pluralism or toleration. How, then, do social scientists of both persuasions currently (...) understand religion? I begin by distinguishing religious experience from other sorts of experience, with a view to demonstrating, first, that the two preeminent terms adopted by social scientists today preference and choice cannot comprehend religious experience. To do this, I provide a brief exposition of what I call the fable of liberalism, in order to explain why the terms preference and choice have achieved the currency that they have and what problems their invocation was intended to address. Second, I consider two other terms social scientists often invoke value and identity and suggest that these terms also are inadequate for understanding religious experience. The first set of terms arises in the eighteenth century, out of the Anglo-American tradition; the second set of terms arises in the nineteenth century, out of the German tradition. None of these terms are able to comprehend religious experience, which antedates these sets of terms by centuries. I end by suggesting, first, that empirical social scientists would do well to reconsider whether terms that arose during specific historical moments in order to circumvent or to supersede religious experience can help them understand human motivation, let alone predict human conduct, whenever or wherever religion is involved; and, second, that the attempt by well-meaning normative social scientists to bring religion into the public sphere by treating it in terms of preference, choice, value, or identity distorts religious experience, and cannot succeed as a strategy for reintroducing religion into public dialog, since religion is not what they wish to render it in terms of. (shrink)
Subjunctive conditionals are fundamental to rational decision both in single agent and multiple agent decision problems. They need explicit analysis only when they cause problems, as they do in recent discussions of rationality in extensive form games. This paper examines subjunctive conditionals in the theory of games using a strict revealed preference interpretation of utility. Two very different models of games are investigated, the classical model and the limits of reality model. In the classical model the logic of backward (...) induction is valid, but it does not use subjunctive conditionals; the relevant subjunctive conditionals do not even make sense. In the limits of reality model the subjunctive conditionals do make sense but backward induction is valid only under special assumptions. (shrink)
This article analyzes the problem of preference imputation in rational choice political science. I argue against the well-established practice in political science of assuming selfish preferences for purely methodological reasons, regardless of its empirical plausibility (this I call a preference for selfish preferences). Real motivations are overlooked due to difficulties of imputing preferences to agents in a non-arbitrary way in the political realm. I compare the problem of preference imputation in economic and political markets, and I show (...) the harmful consequences of the preference for selfish preferences in the field of collective action. Key Words: rational choice theory preference functionalism collective action. (shrink)
In Stephanie Beardman's discussion of the empirical results of Kahneman and Tversky and Kahneman, et al. on pain preference and rational utility decision she argues that an interpretation of these results does not require that false memory for pain episodes yields irrational preferences for future pain events. I concur with her conclusion and suggest that there are reasons from within the pain sciences for agreeing with Beardman's reinterpretation of the Kahneman, et al. data. I cite some of these theoretical (...) and empirical reasons. I engage in some speculation as to why preferences for pain experiences, which harbor the Peak and Ending profile, make biological sense. Given the results from the pain sciences and the clinical practices based in them, I conclude that the medical ethical issue Kahneman raises and Beardman tries to solve is not a pressing moral demand on medical practitioners. (shrink)
We investigate a phenomenon which we have experienced as common when dealing with an assortment of Italian public and private institutions: people promise to exchange high-quality goods and services, but then something goes wrong and the quality delivered is lower than had been promised. While this is perceived as ‘cheating’ by outsiders, insiders seem not only to adapt to, but to rely on this outcome. They do not resent low-quality exchanges; in fact, they seem to resent high-quality ones, and are (...) inclined to put pressure on or avoid dealing with agents who deliver high quality. The equilibrium among low-quality producers relies on an unusual preference ranking which differs from that associated with the Prisoners’ Dilemma and similar games, whereby self-interested rational agents prefer to dish out low quality in exchange for high quality. While equally ‘lazy’, agents in our low-quality worlds are oddly ‘pro-social’: for the advantage of maximizing their raw self-interest, they prefer to receive low-quality goods and services, provided that they too can in exchange deliver low quality without embarrassment. They develop a set of oblique social norms to sustain their preferred equilibrium when threatened by the intrusion of high quality. We argue that high-quality collective outcomes are endangered not only by self-interested individual defectors, but by ‘cartels’ of mutually satisfied mediocrities. (shrink)
a–b* c–d is taken to mean that your degree of preference for a over b is less than your degree of preference for c over d. Various properties of the strength-of-preference comparison relation * are examined along with properties of simple preferences defined from *. The investigation recognizes an individual's limited ability to make precise judgments. Several utility theorems relating a–b * c–d to u(a)–u(b) are included.
Pure time preference is a preference for something to come at one point in time rather than another merely because of when it occurs in time. In opposition to Sidgwick, Ramsey, Rawls, and Parfit we argue that it is not always irrational to be guided by pure time preferences. We argue that even if the mere difference of location in time is not a rational ground for a preference, time may nevertheless be a normatively neutral ground for (...) a preference, and this makes it plausible to claim that the preference is rationally permitted. (shrink)
Controversies in economics often fizzle out unresolved. One reason is that, despite their professed empiricism, economists find it hard to agree on the interpretation of the relevant empirical evidence. In this paper I will present an example of a controversial issue first raised and then solved by recourse to laboratory experimentation. A major theme of this paper, then, concerns the methodological advantages of controlled experiments. The second theme is the nature of experimental artefacts and of the methods devised to detect (...) them. Recent studies of experimental science have stressed that experimenters are often merely concerned about determining whether a certain phenomeonon exists or not, or whether, when, and where it can be produced, without necessarily engaging in proving or disproving any theoretical explanation of the phenomenon itself. In this paper I shall be concerned mainly with such a case, and focus on the example of preference reversals, a phenomenon whose existence was until quite recently denied by the majority of economists. Their favourite strategy consisted in trying to explain the phenomenon away as an artefact of the experimental techniques used to observe it. By controlled experimentation, as we shall see, such an interpretation has been discredited, and now preference reversals are generally accepted as real. The problem of distinguishing an artefact from a real phenomenon is related to methodological issues traditionally discussed by philosophers of science, such as the theory-ladenness of observation and Duhem's problem. Part of this paper is devoted to clarifying these two philosophical problems, and to arguing that only the latter is relevant to the case in hand. The solutions to Duhem's problem devised by economic experimentalists will be presented and discussed. I shall show that they belong in two broad categories: independent tests of new predictions derived from the competing hypotheses at stake, and ‘no-miracle arguments’ from different experimental techniques delivering converging results despite their being theoretically independent. (shrink)
A possible world semantics for preference is developed. The remainder operator () is used to give precision to the notion that two states of the world are as similar as possible, given a specified difference between them. A general structure is introduced for preference relations between states of affairs, and three types of such preference relations are defined. It is argued that one of them, actual preference, corresponds closely to the concept of preference in informal (...) discourse. Its logical properties are studied and shown to be plausible. (shrink)
Economists typically assume that preferences are fixed-that people know what they like and how much they like it relative to all other things, and that this rank-ordering is stable over time. But this assumption has never been accepted by any other discipline. Economists are increasingly having difficulty arguing that the assumption is true enough to generate useful predictions and explanations. Indeed, law and economics scholars increasingly acknowledge that preferences are constructed, and that the law itself can help construct preferences. Still, (...) fixed preferences are often treated as a normative ideal: Even if people don't have fixed preferences, they should. Behavioral law and economics scholars offer approaches to deal with this normative shortcoming. My article argues that preference construction, properly understood, is not normatively undesirable. Having fixed preferences means having a complete and stable rank ordering of what we want that dictates our choices. But we often do not have such an ordering, and rationally so. My article argues instead for an alternative process-based, account of preference construction. Rather than having a complete rank ordering, we have ways of making choices. We construct narratives, using evaluative criteria against a backdrop of wants, desires and inclinations, some of which we rank order and some of which we do not. The evaluative criteria embed a consideration of transaction costs: critically, where a decision is not very consequential, a formulaic decision rule that permits a ready choice among roughly comparable alternatives may serve our purposes better than a more considered alternative-by-alternative assessment. Our wants, desires and inclinations are for both traditional objects of choice and higher order values and desires; they are both previously constructed and constructed and elicited in the choice-making process. My article makes the case for such an account's potential explanatory power, as well as its tractability. (shrink)
In the last few years, preference logic and in particular, the dynamic logic of preference change, has suddenly become a live topic in my Amsterdam and Stanford environments. At the request of the editors, this article explains how this interest came about, and what is happening. I mainly present a story around some recent dissertations and supporting papers, which are found in the references. There is no pretense at complete coverage of preference logic (for that, see Hanson (...) 2001) or even of preference change (Hanson 1995). (shrink)
The paper explores the extent to which self-love, as understood by Bishop Butler, may be in harmony with altruistic virtue. Whereas Butler was primarily concerned to rebut suspicions directed against altruism, the suspicions principally addressed by the present writer are directed against self-love. It is argued that the main vices of self-preference---particularly selfishness, self-centeredness, and arrogance---are not essentially excesses of self-love and, indeed, do not necessarily involve self-love. lt is argued further that self-love is something one is typically taught (...) as a child, for socially compelling reasons. This suggests how a healthy self-love and a healthy commitment to the common good can be integrated and will normally be in harmony. (shrink)
One of the reasons for adopting hyperbolic discounting is to explain preference reversals. Another is that this value structure suggests an elegant theory of the will. I examine the capacity of the theory to solve Newcomb's problem. In addition, I compare Ainslie's account with other procedural theories of choice that seem at least equally capable of accommodating reversals of preference.
Why did Homo erectus begin to craft symmetric tools? A parsimonious account assumes that preference for symmetry is inherent in all visual systems. This preference can be explained by a broader preference for perceptual fluency. The perceptual fluency account does not assume that selection for mate health or the production of symbolic art is a prerequisite for symmetry preference.
(2) Mental preferences: These describe the mental attitude of an individual toward the objects. They can be defined in contexts which do not involve actual choice. In particular, preferences can describe tastes (such as a preference for one season over another) or can refer to situations which are only hypothetical (such as the possible courses of action available to an individual were he to become Emperor of Rome) or which the individual does not fully control (such as a game (...) situation in which a player has preferences over the entire set of outcomes). (shrink)
Mark Johnson’s work The Meaning of the Body presents John Dewey’s pragmatism and pragmatist aesthetics as the forerunners of the anti-Cartesian embodied enactive approach to human experience and meaning. He rejects the Kantian noncognitive character of aesthetics and emphasizes that aesthetics is the study of the human capacity to experience the bodily conditions of meaning constitution that grows from our bodily conditions of life. Using Mark Johnson’s view as a starting-point, this paper offers the beginning of an enactive approach to (...) aesthetic preference contributing to bringing human aesthetic behavior research closer to the enactive approach to human experience. Following enactive studies on bodily sense-making and embodied emotions, I identify the bodily conditions of meaning constitution in which aesthetic preference is grounded with the subject’s self-regulatory visceral embodied constitution of viable degrees of value of the environmental factors according to her bodily structure. Unlike mainstream aesthetic preference research in empirical aesthetics, I claim that the subject’s aesthetic preference constitution requires the lived experience of the bodily conditions of meaning constitution through the conscious experience of the subjectively aroused lived body. The implausibility of the mind/body dichotomy of current aesthetic preference research is highlighted. (shrink)
This paper is a critique of Kenneth Arrow's thesis concerning the logical impossibility of a constitution. I argue that one of the premises of Arrow's proof, that of the transitivity of indifference, is untenable. Several concepts of preference are introduced and counter-instances are offered to the transitivity of indifference defined along the standard lines in terms of these concepts. Alternate analyses of indifference in terms of preference are considered, and it is shown that these do not serve Arrow's (...) purposes either. Finally, it is argued that in the single special case in which indifference could plausibly be held to be transitive, Arrow's thesis is innocuous. (shrink)
A much discussed topic in the theory of choice is how a preference order among options can be derived from the assumption that the notion of ‘choice’ is primitive. Assuming a choice function that selects elements from each finite set of options, Arrow (1959) already showed how we can generate a weak ordering by putting constraints on the behavior of such a function such that it behaves as a utility maximizer. Arrow proposed that rational agents can be modeled by (...) such choice functions. Arrow’s standard model of rationality has been criticized in economics and gave rise to approaches of bounded rationality. Two standard assumptions of rationality will be given up in this paper. First, the idea that agents are utility optimizers (Simon). Second, the idea that the relation of ‘indifference’ gives rise to an equivalence relation. To account for the latter, Luce (1956) introduced semiorders. Extending some ideas of Van Benthem (1982), we will show how to derive semi-orders (and so-called interval orders) based on the idea that agents are utility satisficers rather than utility optimizers. (shrink)
An analysis is presented of the relationships between consumers ethical beliefs, ethical ideology, Machiavellianism, political preference and the individual difference variable "need for closure". It is based on a representative survey of 286 Belgian respondents. Standard measurement tools of proven reliability and robustness are used to measure ethical beliefs (consumer ethics scale), ethical ideology (ethical positioning), Machiavellianism (Mach IV scale) and need for closure. The analysis finds the following. First, individuals with a high need for closure tend to have (...) beliefs that are more ethical as regards possible consumer actions, and score higher on idealism and lower on Machiavellianism, than those with a low need for closure. Second, a correlation exists between political preference and ethical beliefs. Third, a significant relationship exists between ethical ideology and political preference for the two largest political parties. Fourth, individuals with a high and low need for closure have different political preferences for right-wing and left-wing parties. (shrink)
Rationality postulates for preferences are developed from two basic decision theoretic principles, namely: (1) the logic of preference is determined by paradigmatic cases in which preferences are choice-guiding, and (2) excessive comparison costs should be avoided. It is shown how the logical requirements on preferences depend on the structure of comparison costs. The preference postulates necessary for choice guidance in a single decision problem are much weaker than completeness and transitivity. Stronger postulates, such as completeness and transitivity, can (...) be derived under the further assumption that the original preference relation should also be capable of guiding choice after any restriction of the original set of alternatives. (shrink)
The postulates of rational preference suggested by Von Neumann and Morgenstern have been defended as descriptive or empirical generalizations and as normative principles. It is argued that the postulates are inaccurate empirical generalizations and unacceptable normative principles.
Reward attribute, i.e. long-term versus short-term reward, is the most commonly analyzed choice attribute in Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). The present study (nÂ =Â 45) employs measures of individual differences to explore preferences in IGT choices, based on punishment attribute (frequent versus infrequent punishment) along with the reward attribute. Three questionnaires (rational-experiential information processing style, risk attitude, and maximization regret behavior) were employed to analyze whether preferences were based on reward or on punishment attribute of the IGT choices. The T (...) test indicated a selective preference for punishment, but not for reward attribute. Pearsonâs correlation revealed that rational information processing is associated with more choices from infrequentâlarge punishment decks. Regression analysis indicated that rational information processing, tendency to maximize-experience regret, and risk attitude accounted for selective preferences based on the punishment attribute. Measures employed were unrelated to reward attribute of the IGT choices. Results are explained in terms of choice preference for frequent but smaller magnitude versus infrequent but larger magnitude punishment in IGT. (shrink)
Preference is a basic notion in human behaviour, underlying such varied phenomena as individual rationality in the philosophy of action and game theory, obligations in deontic logic (we should aim for the best of all possible worlds), or collective decisions in social choice theory. Also, in a more abstract sense, preference orderings are used in conditional logic or non-monotonic reasoning as a way of arranging worlds into more or less plausible ones. The ﬁeld of preference logic (cf. (...) Hansson ) studies formal systems that can express and analyze notions of preference between various sorts of entities: worlds, actions, or propositions. The art is of course to design a language that combines perspicuity and low complexity with reasonable expressive power. In this paper, we take a particularly simple approach. As preferences are binary relations between worlds, they naturally support standard unary modalities. In particular, our key modality ♦ϕ will just say that is ϕ true in some world which is at least as good as the current one. Of course, this notion can also be indexed to separate agents. The essence of this language is already in , but our semantics is more general, and so are our applications and later language extensions. Our modal language can express a variety of preference notions between propositions. Moreover, as already suggested in , it can “deconstruct” standard conditionals, providing an embedding of conditional logic into more standard modal logics. Next, we take the language to the analysis of games, where some sort of preference logic is evidently needed ( has a binary modal analysis diﬀerent from ours). We show how a qualitative unary preference modality suﬃces for deﬁning Nash Equilibrium in strategic games, and also the Backward Induction solution for ﬁnite extensive games. Finally, from a technical perspective, our treatment adds a new twist. Each application considered in this paper suggests the need for some additional access to worlds before the preference modality can unfold its true power.. (shrink)
This paper argues that Isaac Levi's account of preference reversals is only a limited success. Levi succeeds in showing that an agent acting in accord with his theory may exhibit reversals. Nevertheless, the specific account that Levi presents in order to accommodate the behavior of experimental subjects appears to be disconfirmed by available evidence.
Grace's contextual-choice model can account for the results from many studies on choice under concurrent-chain schedules. However, other models, including one that I call the “hyperbolic value-added model,” can also account for these results. Preference and resistance to change may indeed be related, but the best model of preference remains to be determined.
Nevin & Grace's primary argument against theory and research on behavioral momentum is that preference and resistance to change may not covary. The method for evaluating preference and resistance to change seems problematic. Moreover, the theory fails to account convincingly for effects of average overall time to primary reinforcement on choice and preference for unsegmented schedules.
An individual is said to have a taste for a particular menu, i.e. a subset of available commodities, if he is indifferent between all commodity bundles that contain the same quantity for each commodity which actually is in the menu, whatever the rest of the bundle. Then, a taste is directly defined as a deep property of preferences. As a first result, it is shown that a complete and transitive preference relation over the commodity bundles is equivalent to regular (...) tastes where regularity means that tastes can be derived from a pure qualitative relation between the different commodities. Besides, a preference family based on preference relations corresponding to each particular commodity is said to be rationalizable if there exists a metapreference over commodity bundles which consistently summarizes the preference family and then allows to decide. As a second result, it is shown that if a preference family is rationalizable, then the tastes are organized thanks to a reflexive and transitive qualitative relation between the different commodities. (shrink)
What do the relationships observed in the occurrence of various limb, facial, and speech apraxias following left hemisphere damage mean for Corballis's theory? What does the right hemisphere's role in nonpropositional and automatic speech production tell us about the coevolution of right hand preference and speech; how could the possibility that the right hemisphere may be “dominant” for some aspects of speech be accommodated by his theory?
Despite Fisher's (1930) psychological intuitions of and the formal treatment given by Yaari (1965, Review of Economic Studies 32, 137), the intertemporal model of choice is mainly a model with certain lifetime. The purpose of this paper is to reconsider this assumption, starting from a very simple two-period model of choice with lifetime uncertainty. We examine the comparative statics of the model at the first two orders and replace the concept of `pure time preference' by taking into account the (...) subjective treatment of the probability of survival. (shrink)
In a recent article published in this journal (van Deemter, Gatt, van der Sluis, & Power, 2012), the authors criticize the Incremental Algorithm (a well-known algorithm for the generation of referring expressions due to Dale & Reiter, 1995, also in this journal) because of its strong reliance on a pre-determined, domain-dependent Preference Order. The authors argue that there are potentially many different Preference Orders that could be considered, while often no evidence is available to determine which is a (...) good one. In this brief note, however, we suggest (based on a learning curve experiment) that finding a Preference Order for a new domain may not be so difficult after all, as long as one has access to a handful of human-produced descriptions collected in a semantically transparent way. We argue that this is due to the fact that it is both more important and less difficult to get a good ordering of the head than of the tail of a Preference Order. (shrink)
We propose that Bloom's focus on cognitive factors involved in word learning still lacks a broader perspective. We emphasize the crucial relevance of working memory in learning elements of language. Specifically, we demonstrate through our data that in impaired populations knowledge of some linguistic elements can be dissociated according to the subcomponent of working memory (visual or verbal) involved in a task. Further, although Bloom's concentration on theory of mind as a precondition for word learning is certainly correct, theory of (...) mind being a necessary condition does not make it a sufficient one. On the basis of our studies we point out the importance of a theory of mind related goal preference in acquiring spatial language. In general, we claim that more specific cognitive preferences and constraints should be outlined in detail for the preconditions of acquiring linguistic elements. (shrink)
I would like to stress that early development repeats the evolution of the species. Hence, to understand the origins of functional brain asymmetry and the underlying mechanisms involved in handedness, we have to seek information not only from what we know about human evolution, but also from how an early hand preference develops in our own species.
Axiomatizations of ordered preference differences typically assume that preferences are ordered. However, the mere assumption that preference differences can be ordered says nothing about whether preferences themselves are ordered. Utility representations for ordered differences without ordered preferences are investigated.
In this paper we analyze two recent conditional interpretations of defaults, one based on probabilities, and the other, on models. We study what makes them equivalent, explore their limitations and develop suitable extensions. The resulting framework ties together a number of important notions in default reasoning, like high-probabilities and model-preference, default priorities and argument systems, and independence assumptions and minimality considerations.
Research on preference reversals has demonstrated a disproportionate influence of outcome probability on choices between monetary gambles. The aim was to investigate the hypothesis that this is a prominence effect originally demonstrated for riskless choice. Another aim was to test the structure compatibility hypothesis as an explanation of the effect. The hypothesis implies that probability should be the prominent attribute when compared with value attributes both in a choice and a preference rating procedure. In Experiment 1, two groups (...) of undergraduates were presented with medical treatments described by two value attributes (effectiveness and pain-relief). All participants performed both a matching task and made preference ratings. In the latter task, outcome probabilities were added to the descriptions of the medical treatments for one of the groups. In line with the hypothesis, this reduced the prominence effect on the preference ratings observed for effectiveness. In Experiment 2, a matching task was used to demonstrate that probability was considered more important by a group of participating undergraduates than the value attributes. Furthermore, in both choices and preference ratings the expected prominence effect was found for probability. (shrink)
Analyses of preference for the timing of uncertainty resolution usually assumes all uncertainty to resolve in one point in time. More realistically, uncertainty should be modelled to resolve gradually over time. Kreps and Porteus (1978) have introduced an axiomatically based model of time preference which can explain preferences for gradual uncertainty resolution. This paper presents an experimental test of the Kreps-Porteus model. We derive implications of the model relating preferences for gradual and one-time resolving lotteries. Our data do (...) not support the Kreps-Porteus model but show that some of the behaviour observed may be explained by similarity heuristics. (shrink)
The concept of preference structuration not only provides possible escape-routes from socialchoice-theoretic impossibility problems, but also points towards ways of formalizing notions of 'pluralism', 'consensus' and 'issue-dimensionality'. The present note introduces two methods of (operationally) measuring preference structuration, giving attention to both their conceptual characteristics and their computational feasibility. The method to be advocated, called the 'fractionalization' approach, combines well-known social-choice-theoretic criteria of preference structuration (such as single-peakedness or value-restriction) with the frequently used Rae-Taylor (1970) and Laakso-Taagepera (...) (1979) approaches towards measuring the level of fractionalization, and the effective number of components, in a system. (shrink)
This article examines the debate on the influence of incentives on the occurrence of the so-called preference reversal phenomenon. Firstly, the participants? views on the issue and the main shifts in the debate are identified. Secondly, the statements of views and the shifts in the debate are analyzed within the framework of ?escape moves (Kitcher 1993). In this analysis the focus is on attempts to resolve particular inconsistencies in the statements and on the ability of proposed solutions to induce (...) a community decision to alter more or less permanently a portion of its established practices. The analysis brings to light the negotiation process in which the significance and meaning of the contested issue is not settled by adopting certain rules in a mechanical way but is worked out by context-dependent interpretations of the community of specialists. (shrink)
There is a rich canon of work on the meaning of imperative sentences, e.g. "Dance!", in philosophy and much recent research in linguistics has made its own exciting advances. However, in this paper I argue that three observations about English imperatives are problematic for approaches from both traditions. In response, I offer a new analysis according to which the meaning of an imperative is identified with the characteristic effect its uses have on the agents’ attitudes. More specifically: an imperative’s meaning (...) consists in its potential to change what the agents’ mutually take to be preferred for the purposes of the conversation. Preferences already have a well-established theoretical role in decision theory and artificial intelligence where they are central to understanding how rational agents decide what to do. Connecting them with the semantics of imperatives and formal models of language use therefore achieves a welcome theoretical unity. This unity pays dividends in bridging the gap between a semantics for imperatives and an explanation of how imperatives can (and can’t) be used to guide what we do. In particular, it provides a new and more precise articulation of Grice’s insight that language use can be illuminated by viewing it as an interaction between cooperative, rational agents. I will conclude with some brief remarks about how this approach can relate imperatives and modals, and how it can capture the diverse uses to which imperatives are put. (shrink)
Suppose that we agree that for questions of justice in a pluralistic society, we need a public standard of welfare. An appropriate public standard of welfare will have to meet the following two requirements. First, its conception of each person’s welfare should, to the greatest reasonable extent, be something that each person can recognise as encompassing the things she wants for herself and as giving these things weights that reflect the relative importance she gives to them. Second, it should be (...) sensitive to the fact that reasonable people hold conflicting conceptions of what constitutes an individual’s welfare. It should therefore, to the greatest reasonable extent, respect neutrality of judgement by refraining from endorsing any particular conception of welfare as superior to any other. In an influential set of essays, Richard Arneson (1990a, 1990b, 1990c) has argued that the following conception of welfare is ideally suited to these requirements: equate each individual’s welfare with the degree of satisfaction of her ideally rational, self-regarding preferences. These are the preferences she would have on behalf of herself if she were to engage in ideally extended deliberation with full pertinent information, in a calm mood, while thinking clearly and making no reasoning errors (see Arneson 1990a, pp. 162-163). (For simplicity, in what follows, I will use the term ‘preferences’, to refer to these ideally rational, self-regarding preferences.) Arneson argues that this standard of welfare meets the two aforementioned requirements in the best way possible. It meets the first requirement, he argues, because it comes as close as. (shrink)
Both Representation Theorem Arguments and Dutch Book Arguments support taking probabilistic coherence as an epistemic norm. Both depend on connecting beliefs to preferences, which are not clearly within the epistemic domain. Moreover, these connections are standardly grounded in questionable definitional/metaphysical claims. The paper argues that these definitional/metaphysical claims are insupportable. It offers a way of reconceiving Representation Theorem arguments which avoids the untenable premises. It then develops a parallel approach to Dutch Book Arguments, and compares the results. In each case (...) preferencedefects serve as a diagnostic tool, indicating purely epistemic defects. (shrink)
Models in decision theory and game theory assume that preferences are determinate: for any pair of possible outcomes, a and b, an agent either prefers a to b, prefers b to a, or is indifferent as between a and b. Preferences are also assumed to be stable: provided the agent is fully informed, trivial situational inﬂuences will not shift the order of her preferences. Research by behavioral economists suggests, however, that economic and hedonic preferences are to some degree indeterminate and (...) unstable, which in turn suggests that other sorts of preferences may suffer the same problem. Even fully informed agents do not always determinately prefer a to b, prefer b to a, or feel indifferent as between a and b. Seemingly trivial situational inﬂuences rearrange the order of their preferences. One could respond that decision theory and game theory are not meant to describe actual behavior, and that they instead adumbrate an ideal of rationality from which human action diverges in various ways. When the divergences are small and systematic, they help us identify the heuristics that conspire to help people approximate rationality. One such heuristic, dubbed the Wilde heuristic, is explored. However, the divergences documented by behavioral economists threaten to be too large to handle through idealization. The Rum Tum Tugger Model, in which indifference is intransitive, is spelled out as one promising way for decision and game theory to retrench. Preferences may be locally unstable and indeterminate, but when the differences between options are sufﬁciently large, they approximate stability and determinacy. (shrink)
A general format is introduced for deriving preferences over states of affairs from preferences over a set of contextually complete alternatives. Formal results are given both for this general format and for a specific instance of it that is a plausible explication of ceteris paribus prefence.
“Radical The paper provides a survey of arguments for claims that rational agents should have transitive preferences and argues that they are not valid. The presentation is based on a chapter for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Rational and Social Choice.
Lorenzo Sacconi’s recent re-statement of his social contract account of business ethics is a major contribution to our understanding of the normative nature of CSR as the expression of a fair multi-party agreement supported by the economic rationality of each participant. However, at one crucial point in his theory, Sacconi introduces the concept of stakeholders’ conformist preferences – their disposition to punish the firm if it defects from the agreement, refusing to abide by its own explicit CSR policies and norms. (...) We take issue with him over this concept: we show that the assumption of conformist preferences is a moral premise, and it arguably weakens the normativity of the theory as a whole. As an alternative, we propose an evolutionary game theoretic approach. We draw upon recent applications of evolutionary game theory to moral philosophy (Skyrms, Danielson), and we use a computer simulation of the trust game. According to this approach, the failure of the logic of reputation, which is the problem conformist preferences were introduced to solve, is overcome through the dynamics of interaction. (shrink)
Normative theories suggest that inconsistencies be pointed out to the Decision Maker who is thus given the chance to modify his/her judgments. In this paper, we suggest that the inconsistencies problem be transferred from the Decision Maker to the Analyst. With the Mixture of Maximal Quasi Orders, rather than pointing out incoherences for the Decision Maker to change, these inconsistencies may be used as new source of information to model his/her preferences.
We provide necessary and sufficient conditions for a dynamically consistent agent always to prefer more informative signals (in single-agent problems). These conditions do not imply recursivity, reduction or independence. We provide a simple definition of dynamically consistent behavior, and we discuss whether an intrinsic information lover (say, an anxious person) is likely to be dynamically consistent.
This study tests the relationship between demographic and psychological variables, particularly positive psychology, and investor preferences. Of thedemographics variables, only gender was related to investor preferences, with women expressing a longer time horizon than men. However, the positive psychology variables of hope and novelty orientation were strongly related to risk tolerance, time horizon, and estate intentions.
Acquired taste is an integral part of the cultivation of taste. In this essay, I identify acquired taste as a form of intentional belief acquisition or adaptive preference formation, distinguishing it from ordinary or discovered taste. This account of acquired taste allows for the role of self-deception in the development of taste. I discuss the value of acquired taste in the overall development of taste as well as the ways that an over-reliance on acquired taste can distort overall taste.
The relations between rationality and optimization have been widely discussed in the wake of Herbert Simon's work, with the common conclusion that the rationality concept does not imply the optimization principle. The paper is partly concerned with adding evidence for this view, but its main, more challenging objective is to question the converse implication from optimization to rationality, which is accepted even by bounded rationality theorists. We discuss three topics in succession: (1) rationally defensible cyclical choices, (2) the revealed (...) class='Hi'>preference theory of optimization, and (3) the infinite regress of optimization. We conclude that (1) and (2) provide evidence only for the weak thesis that rationality does not imply optimization. But (3) is seen to deliver a significant argument for the strong thesis that optimization does not imply rationality. (shrink)
The study of decision making has multiple implications for business ethics. This paper outlines some commonly used frameworks for understanding choice in business. It characterises the dominant model for business decision making as rational choice theory (RCT) and contrasts this with a more recent, naturalistic theory of decision-making, image theory. The implications of using RCT and image theory to model decision making are discussed with reference to three ethical systems. RCT is shown to be consistent with Utilitarian ethics, but not (...) with Kantian or Virtue-based ethics. Image theory is shown to be consistent with each. The paper identifies a number of implications following from this analysis. (shrink)
The behavior of individuals currently living will generally have long-term consequences that affect the well-being of those who will come to live in the future. Intergenerational interdependencies of this nature raise difficult moral issues because only the current generation is in a position to decide on actions that will determine the nature of the world in which future generations will live. Although most are willing to attach some weight to the interests of future generations, many would argue that it is (...) not necessary to treat these interests as equivalent to those of the current generation. A common approach in this context is to use a system of discounting to evaluate future benefits and harms. This paper assesses the logic of discounting drawing on the writings of economists and philosophers. Much of the economic literature concerns the choice of an appropriate social discount rate. The social discount rate can be taken to reflect beliefs about the rights of future generations, a subject that has been extensively debated in the phioosophic literature. The writings of both economists and philosophers concerned with the weight to attach to the interests of future generations are reviewed and evaluated in this paper and the implications for environmental policy are discussed. (shrink)
This paper addresses various solutions to Meno's Problem: Why is it that knowledge is more valuable than merely true belief? Given both a pragmatist as well as a veritist understanding of epistemic value, it is argued that a reliabilist analysis of knowledge, in general, promises a hopeful strategy to explain the extra value of knowledge. It is, however, shown that two recent attempts to solve Meno's Problem within reliabilism are severely flawed: Olsson's conditional probability solution and Goldman's value autonomization solution. (...) The paper proceeds with a discussion of the purpose of having a higher value of knowledge as opposed to merely true belief, both in evolutionary and social terms. It claims that under a reliabilist analysis of knowledge it can be explained how knowers could evolve rather than just truthful believers. Subsequently, the paper develops an account of how we can manipulate our testimonial environment in an epistemically beneficial way by valuing reliably produced true belief more that just true belief and so gives an indirect justification of the extra value of knowledge. (shrink)
If one can get the targets of one's current wants only by acquiring new wants (as in the Prisoner's Dilemma), is it rational to do so? Arguably not. For this could justify adopting unsatisfiable wants, violating the rational duty to maximize one's utility. Further, why cause a want's target if one will not then want it? And people "are" their wants. So if these change, people will not survive to enjoy their wants' targets. I reply that one rationally need not (...) advance one's future wants, only current ones. Furthermore, rational choice seeks not utility (the co-obtaining of a want and its target), but satisfaction (the eventual obtaining of what is now wanted) -- otherwise, it would be irrational to care now about what happens after one dies. Finally, persons survive "rational" changes of values. Thus reflection on the rational revision of values illuminates the conditions on personal identity and the bases and aims of rational choice. (shrink)