Second-Order Preferences and Instrumental Rationality

Acta Analytica 26 (4):367-385 (2011)

Authors
Donald W. Bruckner
University of Pittsburgh (PhD)
Abstract
A second-order preference is a preference over preferences. This paper addresses the role that second-order preferences play in a theory of instrumental rationality. I argue that second-order preferences have no role to play in the prescription or evaluation of actions aimed at ordinary ends. Instead, second-order preferences are relevant to prescribing or evaluating actions only insofar as those actions have a role in changing or maintaining first-order preferences. I establish these claims by examining and rejecting the view that second-order preferences trump first-order preferences. I also examine and reject the view that second-order preferences give additional normative force to an agent’s preferred first-order preferences. I conclude by arguing that second-order preferences should be integrated into an agent’s object-level preference ordering, and by explaining how best to make sense of this integration
Keywords Second-order preferences  Preferences  Instrumental rationality  Richard Jeffrey
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DOI 10.1007/s12136-010-0113-x
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References found in this work BETA

The Sources of Normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Morals by Agreement.David Gauthier - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
The Sources of Normativity.Christine Korsgaard - 1996 - Mind 106 (424):791-794.
The Logic of Decision.Richard Jeffrey - 1965 - University of Chicago Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Silent Prudence.Donald W. Bruckner - 2009 - Philosophical Explorations 12 (3):349-364.

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