Describes and evaluates a number of existing criticisms of the formal theory of rationality and subjective expected utility theory. The author argues that rationality is not a behavioural entity, but rather has to do with the relation between an agent's preferences and his or her behaviour.
This volume provides an overview of issues arising in work on the foundations of decision theory and social choice. The collection will be of particular value to researchers in economics with interests in utility or welfare, but also to any social scientist or philosopher interested in theories of rationality or group decision-making.
Sen’s capabilities approach offers a radical generalisation of the conventional approach to welfare economics. It has been highly influential in development and many researchers are now beginning to explore its implications for health care. This paper contributes to the emerging debate by discussing two examples of such applications: first, at the individual decision making level, namely the right to die, and second, at the social choice level. For the first application, which draws on Nussbaum’s list of capabilities, it is argued (...) that many capabilities are ambiguously or indirectly related to the right to die, but the ability to form a concept of the good life and plan one’s own life provides a direct justification for such a right. In the second application, the focus is specifically on healthcare rationing and it is argued that, although not committed to age based rationing, the capabilities approach provides a more natural justification of age related access to health care than the fair innings argument, which is often used to justify the alleged ageism inherent in quality adjusted life years maximisation. (shrink)
This study used fMRI to investigate the neural substrates of moral cognition in health resource allocation decision problems. In particular, it investigated the cognitive and emotional processes that underpin utilitarian approaches to health care rationing such as Quality Adjusted Life Years. Participants viewed hypothetical medical and nonmedical resource allocation scenarios which described equal or unequal allocation of resources to different groups. In addition, participants were assigned to 1 of 2 treatments in which they either did or did not receive advanced (...) instructions about the principles of utilitarianism. In all cases, participants were asked to judged the proposed allocations as “fair” or “unfair.” More brain activity was observed within the superior parietal lobe, angular gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, and bilateral caudate nucleus when participants viewed scenarios depicting equal divisions of resources. Conversely, unequal resource divisions were associated with more activity in the inferior frontal gyrus and insula cortex. Furthermore, instructions about the principles of utilitarianism led to significant activation differences within the inferior frontal gyrus and the middle frontal gyrus. Significant differences in activity were also found within the inferior frontal cortex and anterior insula between medical and nonmedical scenarios. The implications for cognitive control mechanisms and the cognitive and neural bases of utilitarian ethical judgment are discussed. (shrink)
“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.
The paper argues against the polarisation of the health economics literature into pro- and anti-QALY camps. In particular, we suggest that a crucial distinction should be made between the QALY measure as a metric of health, and QALY maximisation as an applied social choice rule. We argue against the rule but for the measure and that the appropriate conceptualisation of health-care rationing decisions should see the main task as the integration of competing and possibly incommensurable normative claim types. We identify (...) the main types as consequences, rights, social contracts, individual votes and community values and note situations in which the contribution of each claim type is limited. We go on to show that the integration of (at least some of) these claim types can be formalised within the mathematical framework provided by non-linear programming. (shrink)
This article seeks to provide a characterization of theory prevalent in economics and found in many areas of social and natural science, particularly those that make increasing use of rational choice perspectives. Four kinds of theoretical project are identified in which empirical evidence plays a relatively small role in theory acceptance. The paper associates the minor role of evidence in theory formation and acceptance to a need to answer counterfactual questions and argues that is not necessarily incompatible with accounts of (...) science that emphasise truth in the development of theory. However, this view of economics does highlight factors that play a central role in theory acceptance which have not featured very strongly, if at all, in the philosophy of science literature. The article goes on to discuss four areas of economics that illustrate the consequences of using theory acceptance procedures which give relatively little weight to empirical testing. Benefits and costs of counterfactual science as it has developed in economics are discussed. It is concluded that there are good reasons why scientists may not use evidence in theory acceptance, even if an unintended consequence has been to strip economics of valuable empirical sensibilities still evident in natural sciences. (shrink)
The paper compares use of willingness to pay values with multi-attribute utility as ways of modelling social choice problems in the environment. A number of reasons for moving away from willingness to pay are reviewed. The view proposed is that social choice is about the integration of competing claim types (utilities, rights, social contracts and beliefs about due process). However, willingness to pay is only indirectly related to the first of these and assumes an Arrovian approach, namely one in which (...) social choice is regarded as the aggregation of people's preferences. (shrink)
The book offers a novel account of human happiness suitable for the general or popular science reader. Drawing on evidence from psychology and economics, as well as recent thinking in ethics, Happiness Explained addresses two of the most important questions to humankind, namely, what is happiness and how can we take account of this in our everyday lives? The book starts by setting out what is wrong with focussing exclusively on gross national income as a measure of wellbeing and introduces (...) a novel approach developed by Nobel prize-winner Amartya Sen. It then considers evidence relating to different aspects of wellbeing from a wide range of economics and psychological studies. It also examines issues of fairness and wellbeing, the emergence of policies and practice around the world that seek to account for human wellbeing explicitly, and the principles that underpin wellbeing over the life course. (shrink)
Subjective language has attracted substantial attention in the recent literature in formal semantics and philosophy of language Subjective meaning: alternatives to relativism, De Gruyter, Berlin, pp 1–19, 2016; Lasersohn in Subjectivity and perspective in truth-theoretic semantics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2017; Vardomskaya in Sources of subjectivity, Ph.D. thesis, University of Chicago, IL, 2018; Zakkou in Faultless disagreement: a defense of contextualism in the realm of personal taste, Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt a. M., 2019b). Most current theories argue that Subjective Predicates, which (...) express matters of opinion, semantically differ from ordinary predicates, which express matters of fact. We will call this view “SP exceptionalism”. This paper addresses SP exceptionalism by scrutinizing the behavior of SPs in attitude reports, which, as we will argue, significantly constrains the space of analytical options and rules out some of the existing theories. As first noticed by Stephenson :487–525, 2007a; Towards a theory of subjective meaning, Ph.D. thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 2007b), the most prominent reading of embedded SPs is one where they talk about the attitude holder’s subjective judgment. As is remarked sometimes :327–352, 2009; Pearson in J Semant 30:103–154, 2013a), this reading is not the only one: embedded SPs may also talk about someone else’s, non-local, judgment. We concentrate specifically on such cases and show that non-local judgment is possible if and only if SPs are used within a DP that is outside main predicate position and that entire DP is read de re. We demonstrate that the behavior of SPs in attitude reports does not differ from that of ordinary predicates: it follows from general constraints on intersective modification and intensional quantification Ways of scope taking, Springer, Dordrecht, pp 183–215, 1997; Musan in On the temporal interpretation of noun phrases, Garland, New York, 1997; Percus in Nat Lang Semant 8:173–229, 2000; Keshet in Good intensions: paving two roads to a theory of the de re/de dicto distinction, Ph.D. thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 2008). We argue that this unexceptional behavior of SPs in fact has unexpected consequences for SP exceptionalism. Precisely because SPs have been argued to be semantically different from ordinary predicates, not all theories correctly predict these less-studied data: some overgenerate :691–706, 2007; Sæbø 2009) and some undergenerate Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung, vol 11, pp 433–447, 2007; Pearson 2013a). Out of the currently available theories, only relativist accounts :643–686, 2005; MacFarlane 2014; Bylinina in J Semant 34, 291–331, 2017; Coppock in Linguist Philos 41:125–164, 2018) predict the right interpretation, and only that interpretation. We thus present a novel empirical argument for relativism, and, more generally, formulate a constraint that has to be taken into consideration by any view that advocates SP exceptionalism. (shrink)
In the context of multidimensional measures of well-being, a key question for policy is whether particular groups have differing priorities and are therefore likely to react differently to given economic or social shocks. We explore this issue by presenting the results of two related analyses that suggest positive answers on both counts. First, we apply reference class weights to unique data on adult capabilities in the UK and show that relative weights vary across some groupings. Furthermore, in some cases, deprivation (...) rankings of groups vary depending on which weights are used. Second, we explore possible behavioural consequences of different weights by examining the extent to which groups respond differently to three economic and social shocks (unemployment, widowhood and ill health). In this case, we find that weights and responses vary noticeably with age and region and sometimes with gender. We conclude that whilst equal weighting may be practically unavoidable when constructing indices of welfare in the absence of information on weights, their estimation from survey or experimental data is likely to be justified and may change views about policy needs or efficacy. (shrink)
For over three decades, the capability approach proposed and developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum has had a distinct impact on development theories and approaches because it goes beyond an economic conception of development and engages with the normative aspects of development. This book explores the new frontiers of the capability approach and its links to human development in three main areas. First, it delves into the philosophical foundations of the approach, re-examining its links to concepts of common good, (...) collective agency and epistemic diversity. Secondly, it addresses its 'operational frontier', aiming to give inclusive explanations of some of the most advanced methods available for capability researchers. Thirdly, it offers a wide range of the applications of this approach, as carried out by a mix of renowned capability scholars and researchers from different disciplines. This broad interdisciplinary range includes the areas of human and sustainable development, inequalities, labour markets, education, special needs, cities, urban planning, housing, social capital and happiness studies, among others. (shrink)
Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on many day-to-day activities but one of the biggest collateral impacts was felt by the education sector. The nature and the complexity of higher education is such that no matter how prepared we are as faculty, how planned our teaching and assessments, faculty are all too aware of the adjustments that have to be made to course plans, assessments designed, content delivery strategies and so on once classes begin. Faculties find themselves changing, modifying and deviating (...) from original plans to ensure accessibility and inclusiveness, this may be due to a variety of reasons such as student abilities, behaviour, disturbances and even outside factors that may be political, environmental, social etc. Majority of the time, faculty are prepared for the change that needs to be incorporated and are quick to adjust. However, no one expected the disruption to education that was caused by COVID19 pandemic. The world came to a standstill while schools and universities scrambled to push learning to the digital space. It was important to try to ensure continuity of learning for students, but the issue of integrity came to the forefront by summertime. Faculties were suddenly expected to restructure their lessons, delivery, teaching and assessing digitally, at the same time ensuring and upholding integrity of the concepts taught and assessed. This has neither been easy or straightforward because the situation was unprecedented with little or no prior documentation or guidelines to help. Recognising this gap, this paper is an attempt at providing exploratory findings from authors’ experiences in their respective institutions over the ensuing months. The paper attempts to record the changes made by the faculty and colleagues to lessons and assessments with particular focus on how technology has been used to help restructure classes, deliver lessons and assess students which have aided in minimizing the likelihood of students cheating. The paper further narrates the reflective changes that were made in response to experience, student/external examiners feedback etc. (shrink)