What Preferences Really Are

Philosophy of Science 85 (4):660-681 (2018)
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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.



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Erik Angner
Stockholm University