In the history of Western philosophy, questions of well-being and happiness have played a central role for some 2,500 years. Yet, when it comes to the systematic empirical study of happiness and satisfaction, philosophers are relative latecomers. Empirically-minded psychologists began studying systematically the determinants and distribution of happiness and satisfaction – understood as positive or desirable subjectively experienced mental states – during the 1920’s and 30’s, as personality psychology emerged as a bona fide subdiscipline of psychology shortly after World War (...) I (Angner, 2005a). The first philosopher to take this literature seriously, to my knowledge, was Nicholas Rescher (1972). The topic reappeared in the philosophical literature in the 90’s, as L. W. Sumner (1996) developed his account of well-being as life satisfaction in a manner that appears to have been inspired by the empirical literature, and again in the 00’s, when a number of younger philosophers, apparently independently, turned to this literature in order to examine how it can inform, and be informed by, moral philosophy and philosophy of science (Alexandrova, 2005; Angner, 2005b; Haybron, 2000; Tiberius, 2006). (shrink)
Angner is especially interested in the work of Goodman Watson. “He was a professor of educational psychology at Columbia University who wrote a prominent article in 1930 that outlined his determination to explore whether it was possible to measure happiness,” Angner explains.
Daniel M. Hausman holds that preferences in economics are total subjective comparative evaluations—subjective judgments to the effect that something is better than something else all things told—and that economists are right to employ this conception of preference. Here, I argue against both parts of Hausman’s thesis. The failure of Hausman’s account, I continue, reflects a deeper problem, that is, that preferences in economics do not need an explicit definition of the kind that he seeks. Nonetheless, Hausman’s labors were not in (...) vain: his accomplishment is that he has articulated a useful model of the theory. (shrink)
A ubiquitous argument against mental-state accounts of well-being is based on the notion that mental states like happiness and satisfaction simply cannot be measured. The purpose of this paper is to articulate and to assess this “argument from measurability.” My main thesis is that the argument fails: on the most charitable interpretation, it relies on the false proposition that measurement requires the existence of an observable ordering satisfying conditions like transitivity. The failure of the argument from measurability, however, does not (...) translate into a defense of mental-state accounts as accounts of well-being or of measures of happiness and satisfaction as measures of well-being. Indeed, I argue, the ubiquity of the argument from measurability may have obscured other, very real problems associated with mental-state accounts of well-being – above all, that happiness and satisfaction fail to track well-being – and with measures of happiness and satisfaction – above all, the tendency toward reification. I conclude that the central problem associated with the measurement of, e.g., happiness as a subjectively experienced mental state is not that it is too hard to measure, but rather that it is too easy to measure. (shrink)
Subjective measures of well-being?measures based on answers to questions such as ?Taking things all together, how would you say things are these days?would you say you're very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy these days???are often presented as superior to more traditional economic welfare measures, e.g., for public policy purposes. This paper aims to spell out and assess what I will call the argument from directness: the notion that subjective measures of well-being better represent well-being than economic measures do (...) because subjective measures (and subjective measures alone) are direct measures of well-being. My main thesis is that the argument begs the question against proponents of economic measures: it is based on a premise that they reject and that is no less in need of justification than the conclusion of the argument, namely, the proposition that well-being is constituted by subjectively experienced mental states. If subjective measures can be defended as valid measures of well-being at all, I will maintain, it is because they are (imperfect) indirect measures of well-being. (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.
Drawing on research in the psychology of judgment and decision making, I argue that individual economists acting as experts in matters of public policy are likely to be victims of significant overconfidence. The case is based on the pervasiveness of the phenomenon, the nature of the task facing economists?as?experts, and the character of the institutional constraints under which they operate. Moreover, I argue that economist overconfidence can have dramatic consequences. Finally, I explore how the negative consequences of overconfidence can be (...) mitigated, and how the phenomenon can be reduced or eliminated. As a case study, I discuss the involvement of Western experts in post?communist Russian economic reforms. (shrink)
This paper examines issues of ontology and methodology in behavioral economics: the attempt to increase the explanatory and predictive power of economic theory by providing it with more psychologically plausible foundations. Of special interest is the epistemological status of neoclassical economic theory within behavioral economics, the runaway success story of contemporary economics. Behavioral economists aspire to replace the fundamental assumptions of orthodox, neoclassical economic theory. Yet, behavioral economists have gone out of their way to praise those very assumptions. Matthew Rabin, (...) for example, writes that behavioral economics “is not only built on the premise that [orthodox] economic methods are great, but also that most mainstream economic assumptions are great.” These apparently contradictory attitudes toward neoclassical theory raises the question of what, exactly, its epistemological status within behavioral economics is. This paper argues that the paradox can be resolved, and the question answered, by thinking of the epistemological status of neoclassical theory within behavioral economics in terms of Max Weber’s ideal types: analytical constructs that are not intended to be descriptively true of anything but which nevertheless can be used for a variety of theoretical purposes. The analysis is consistent with many of the insights from the philosophical literature on models in science and has important implications for the practice of economics—behavioral and neoclassical—as well as for the very nature of rationality. (shrink)
In promoting spontaneous orders – orders that evolve in a process of cultural evolution – as “efficient,” “beneficial,” and “advantageous,” Friedrich A. Hayek (1899-1992) has often been attributed the belief that there is something desirable about them. For this reason, he has been accused of committing the naturalistic fallacy, that is, of trying to derive an “ought” from an “is.” It appears that Hayek was..
This paper examines the notion of “subjective well-being” as it is used in literature on subjective measures of well-being. I argue that those who employ the notion differ at least superficially on at least two points: first, about the relationship between subjective well-being and well-being simpliciter, and second, about the constituents of subjective well-being. In an effort to reconcile the differences, I propose an interpretation according to which subjective measures presuppose preference hedonism: an account according to which well-being is a (...) matter of desired mental states. (shrink)
Much recent philosophical literature on happiness and satisfaction is based on the belief that empirical research is relevant to philosophical conclusions. In his2010 book What is This Thing Called Happiness? Fred Feldman begs to differ. He suggests that there is no evidence that empirical research is relevant to long-standing philosophical questions; consequently, that philosophers have little reason to pay attention to the work of psychologists or economists; and that philosophers need not fear embarrassing themselves by being ignorant of important scientific (...) findings that bear directly on their work. Relying on an example invoked by Feldman himself, this paper makes the case that all three theses are false. The argument suggests a picture according to which science and philosophy stand in a symbiotic relationship, with scientists and philosophers engaging in a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas for the advancement of thegeneral knowledge. (shrink)
ErikAngner has argued that simultaneous endorsement of the representational theory of measurement and psychometrics leads to inconsistency. His claim rests on an implicit assumption: RTM and psychometrics are full-fledged approaches to measurement. I argue that RTM and psychometrics are only partial approaches that deal with different aspects of measurement, and that therefore simultaneous endorsement of the two is not inconsistent. The argument has implications for the improvement of measurement practices.
This paper traces the historical origins of Friedrich A. Hayek's theory of cultural evolution, and argues that Hayek's evolutionary thought was significantly inspired by Alexander M. Carr-Saunders and Oxford zoology. While traditional Hayek scholarship emphasizes the influence of Carl Menger and the British eighteenth-century moral philosophers, I claim that these sources underdetermine what was most characteristic of Hayek's theory, viz. the idea that cultural evolution is a matter of group selection, and the idea that natural selection operates on acquired as (...) well as on inherited properties. (shrink)
In a recent paper on realism and pragmatism published in this journal, Osmo Kivinen and Tero Piiroinen have been pleading for more methodological work in the philosophy of the social sciences—refining the conceptual tools of social scientists—and less philosophically ontological theories. Following this de-ontologizing approach, we scrutinize the debates on social explanation and contribute to the development of a pragmatic social science methodology. Analyzing four classic debates concerning explanation in the social sciences, we propose to shift the debate away from (...) (a) the ontologizing defenses of forms of social explanation, and (b) a winner-takes-all-approach. Instead, we advocate (c) a pragmatic approach towards social explanation, elaborating a rigorous framework for explanatory pluralism detached from the debates on social ontology. (shrink)
An agent may abandon an initiated action plan, although he doesnot acquire new information or encounter unforeseen obstacles.Such dynamic inconsistency can be to the agent'';s guaranteeddisadvantage, and there is a debate on how it should rationallybe avoided. The main contenders are the sophisticated andthe resolute approaches. I argue that this debate is misconceived,since both approaches rely on false assumptions about theperformability of action plans. The debate can be reformulated,so as to avoid these mistaken assumptions. I try to show that sucha (...) reformulation must rely on certain implausible claims. (shrink)
Material kept in the National Library of Finland shows that from 1963 until 1969 Erik Stenius (1911–1990) worked on a book on antinomies , having been invited by the Dutch logician Evert Beth (1908–1964) to contribute a monograph to the North-Holland series Studies in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics . The book was never published, but the manuscript has been found, and it is the purpose of this note to report on this finding.
In this paper I develop a novel challenge for sceptical theists. I present a line of reasoning that appeals to sceptical theism to support scepticism about divine assertions. I claim that this reasoning is at least as plausible as one popular sceptical theistic strategy for responding to evidential arguments from evil. Thus, I seek to impale sceptical theists on the horns of a dilemma: concede that either sceptical theism implies scepticism about divine assertions, or the sceptical theistic strategy for responding (...) to evidential arguments from evil fails. An implication of is that sceptical theism is at odds with any religious tradition according to which there are certain claims that we can know to be true solely in virtue of the fact that God has told us that they are true. This result will render conceding unattractive to many sceptical theists. (shrink)
Jan Albert van Laar and Erik Krabbe’s paper “Splitting a difference of opinion” studies an important type of dialogue shift, namely that from a deliberation dialogue over action or policy options where critical and persuasive argumentation is exchanged about the rational acceptability of the policy options proposed by various parties, to a negotiation dialogue where agreement is reached by a series of compromises, or trade-offs, on the part of each side in the disagreement.
Erik Banks does several things in this slender yet substantial book on realistic empiricism (aka neutral monism). First, he encapsulates the main ideas of this tradition. While he goes into greater depth on some of these ideas than other introductions do, these pages are still accessible to nonspecialists. Second, he traces the the history of this tradition through the Austrian scientist, Ernst Mach, the American psychologist, William James, the British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, and others. These four chapters are a (...) valuable source for readers seeking to understand neutral monism in depth. Third, he develops his own version of neutral monism to deal with problems in the philosophies of mind and science. Most of my commentary will pertain to his own theory, which has some similar roots to my own. (shrink)
Erik Wielenberg’s new book Robust Ethics: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Godless Normative Realism aims at defending a non-theistic of ‘robust normative realism’: the metaethical view that normative properties exist, and have four features: (1) objectivity, (2) non-naturalness, (3) irreducibility, and (4) causal inertness. In my review I criticize that Wielenberg does not address semantic issues which are crucial both to defending robust normative realism, and to assessing the empirical claims he makes. Moreover, and relatedly, I suggest that Wielenberg’s (...) main psychological and evolutionary claims may be less well-founded than suggested. Despite these worries, however, Robust Ethics is a highly valuable contribution to metaethics. Wielenberg’s writing is extremely accessible, engaging, witty, and clear, he develops various fascinating novel arguments, and skilfully links analytic reflections with the consideration of empirical data. (shrink)
In my response to Kevin Carnahan, I explain the concept of religion that I have been working with in my writings on the place of religious reasons in public political discourse. While acknowledging that religion is often privatized, my concern has been with religion as a way of life. It is religion so understood that raises the most serious issues concerning the role of religion in public discourse. In my response to Erik A. Anderson, I go beyond what I (...) have previously said about the role of religious reasons in public discourse. As an alternative to Rawlsian public reason, I argue that the essence of liberal democracy is that every citizen is to have equal political voice. I go on to consider what it is to exercise one’s equal political voice as a moral engagement. (shrink)
An Internet persona known as "Erik" reviewed those aspects of my book No Free Lunch dealing with the Law of Conservation of Information and specificational resources. Erik's review is titled "On Dembski's Law of Conservation of Information" and is available at http://www.talkreason.org/articles/dembski_LCI.pdf. I respond to the review here.
This comment on Erik Claes values his treatment of in-depth interviews to gain a better understanding of how volunteers make sense of their activities, but it questions the representativeness, meaningfulness and civicness of what is found. Meaning as deep personal commitment to an objective value is probably quite exceptional. The values and goals of Claes’s volunteers are deeply human and wide-ranging, but too ignorant of disagreement, power and politics to be called civic.
In Shaping Our Selves, Erik Parens offers both a personal history of bioethics and a cleverly clarifying lens to train on disputes in bioethics about emerging technologies. The question for readers is whether this lens, as useful as it is, leaves too much outside our field of vision. Parens, born in 1957, comes from the first wave of bioethics scholars—those of us who still mostly happened into bioethics as a field, before it was sufficiently well-established to be identified as (...) a career pathway. Bioethics enjoys a fascinating diversity of origin stories, and Parens’s is no exception. He began his studies at the University of Chicago’s pan-disciplinary Committee on Social Thought, one of a handful.. (shrink)
Erik Erikson's work in psychosocial developmental theory has made valuable contributions to the field of religious ethics on some very basic issues. This paper makes scattered elements of Erikson's explicit ethical perspective available in concise fashion for critical ethical reflection. It does this in such a way as to highlight the centrally important fact for religious ethics that implicitly operative in Erikson's view is a criterion of "self-transcendence" as definitive of mature personal (fully human, ethical) development.
The Dutch Roman Catholic theologian Erik Borgman, who developed a cultural theology, was appointed as a visiting professor at the liberal Protestant theological Mennonite Seminary in Amsterdam. In this article, his progressive Roman Catholic theology is compared to a liberal Protestant approach. The historical backgrounds of these different types of theology are expounded, all the way back to Aquinas and Scotus, in order to clarify their specific character for the sake of a better mutual understanding. Next, the convergence of (...) these two types of theology in the twentieth century is explained with reference to the philosophy of Heidegger. Finally, the difficulties posed by postmodern philosophies to both a progressive Roman Catholic theology and a liberal Protestant theology are shown. It is asserted that both types of theology claim that the insights of their particular tradition can be relevant beyond this tradition to modern and postmodern humans. (shrink)
Erik Schokkaert's note presents a very good summary of the theory of macrojustice and a very good list of the directions of research it points to. This is quite fitting since a research programme defines a paradigm, and he sees this proposal as a paradigm shift. This is also very appropriate since his own qualifications are the best for advancing fast in these research topics. I have only a very small number of qualifications to add to his presentation, but (...) I prefer to begin with emphasizing the most important issues. Two aspects can be seen as the most important: the de facto axiomatic derivation of the solution ELIE and its application on the one hand, and the present state of scholarly studies of the optimum or just distribution of income on the other hand. Let us enter by the second door (as opposed to what is done in the book Macrojustice). This will lead us to conclude with a more synthetic and broader view of the basic logic of the paradigms of justice and of the surprising recent history of their interpretations. (shrink)
The twentieth century has been described as the time of man’s discovery of himself; few have contributed more to this cause than Erik Erikson. _The Clinical Erik Erikson: A psychoanalytic method of engagement and activation_ highlights Erikson’s transforming contributions to the field of psychoanalysis and honors his legacy by providing unpublished clinical case illustrations of his actual psychotherapeutic work. The publication of case material—simple memorable fragments and clinical vignettes— brings the reader into Erikson’s consultation room, providing a portrait (...) of his clinical technique and demonstrating how he actually worked. Stephen Schlein, an authority on Erikson, presents an illuminating account of Erikson’s pioneering work through an exhaustive search of his early monographs on child psychoanalysis, clinical writings, psychotherapeutic case studies, and participation at case conferences at The Austen Riggs Center. Erikson’s writings reveal a psychoanalytic method of extraordinary richness that emphasizes essential ingredients of an interpersonal-relational clinical method and articulates interactional dimensions that have restorative potential. His vision focuses on the relationship, its powerful affects, and a belief that human beings have a potent capacity for real change. This book will be essential reading for psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists. (shrink)
(2018) Gabriel Vacariu (Philosophy, University of Bucharest) 92018), ‘Section July 2018: UNBELIEVABLE similar ideas with my ideas (2002-2008) of these authors: Oreste M. Fiocco (forthcoming); Baptiste Le Bihan (University of Geneva, forthcoming); Antonella Mallozzi (The Graduate Center – CUNY, forthcoming in Synthese, penultimate draft); Erik C. Banks (Wright State University, 2014); Sami Pihlström (2009) -/- [I investigated these works in July 2018: In this section, I will include only paragraphs from various articles or books written by different persons. These (...) paragraphs contain ideas that are UNBELIEVABLE similar to my ideas published between 2002-2008. I mention that there are other ideas very similar to my ideas (especially in books) but I did not have the interest and time of reading word by word these works.] -/- . (shrink)