Utilitas 23 (1):52-71 (2011)

Authors
Ben Colburn
Glasgow University
Abstract
Adaptive preference formation is the unconscious altering of our preferences in light of the options we have available. Jon Elster has argued that this is bad because it undermines our autonomy. I agree, but think that Elster's explanation of why is lacking. So, I draw on a richer account of autonomy to give the following answer. Preferences formed through adaptation are characterized by covert influence (that is, explanations of which an agent herself is necessarily unaware), and covert influence undermines our autonomy because it undermines the extent to which an agent's preferences are ones that she has decided upon for herself. This answer fills the lacuna in Elster's argument. It also allows us to draw a principled distinction between adaptive preference formation and the closely related phenomenon of character planning
Keywords autonomy  adaptive preferences  preferences  well-being
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DOI 10.1017/s0953820810000440
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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.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Free Agency.Gary Watson - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (April):205-20.
Sour Grapes: Studies in the Subversion of Rationality.Jon Elster - 1983 - Editions De La Maison des Sciences De L'Homme.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.

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Citations of this work BETA

Autonomy, Rationality, and Contemporary Bioethics.Jonathan Pugh - 2020 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Feminist Perspectives on Autonomy.Natalie Stoljar - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Authenticity and Autonomy in Deep-Brain Stimulation.Alistair Wardrope - 2014 - Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (8):563-566.

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