Authors
Abstract
In Chapter 2 of Escape from Leviathan, Jan Lester defends two hypotheses: that instrumental rationality requires agents to maximise the satisfaction of their wants and that all agents actually meet this requirement. In addition, he argues that all agents are self-interested (though not necessarily egoistic) and he offers an account of categorical moral desires which entails that no agent ever does what he genuinely feels to be morally wrong. I show that Lester’s two hypotheses are false because they cannot accommodate weakness of will, because they are inconsistent with agency, which requires free will, because ends, obligations and values cannot be reduced to desires, and because maximisation is often not possible. Further, Lester’s claim that agents are self-interested is vacuous, his attempted reduction of moral behaviour to want-satisfaction fails, and his contention, that agents always do what they genuinely think to be morally required, seems untenable. A defence of freedom that depends on homo economicus is far from promising.
Keywords agency  free will  homo economicus  instrumental rationality  maximization  morality  weakness of will  Karl Popper  Friedrich Hayek  values
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
An Essay on Free Will.Peter Van Inwagen - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
The Possibility of Altruism.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Oxford Clarendon Press.
Free Agency.Gary Watson - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (April):205-20.

View all 27 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

"Homo Economicus", Political Economy and Socialism.Euclid Tsakalotos - 2004 - Science and Society 68 (2):137 - 160.
Instrumental Rationality.Markos Valaris - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy 20 (4):443-462.
Constitutivism and the Inescapability of Agency.Luca Ferrero - 2009 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 4:303-333.
Instrumental Desires, Instrumental Rationality.Edward Harcourt - 2004 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 78 (1):111–129.
Reconciling Homo Economicus and John Dewey's Ethics.Mark D. White - 2003 - Journal of Economic Methodology 10 (2):223-243.
Intention, Belief, and Instrumental Rationality.Michael Bratman - 2009 - In David Sobel & Steven Wall (eds.), Reasons for Action. Cambridge University Press. pp. 13--36.
Gauthier and the Capacity for Morality.Georgia Testa - 2003 - Res Publica 9 (3):223-242.
Instrumental Rationality.Ralph Wedgwood - 2011 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 6:280-309.
Why Science Cannot Be Value-Free.Agnieszka Lekka-Kowalik - 2010 - Science and Engineering Ethics 16 (1):33-41.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2012-10-18

Total views
265 ( #35,377 of 2,446,491 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #231,676 of 2,446,491 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes