This essay criticizes the proposal recently defended by a number of prominent economists that welfare economics be redirected away from the satisfaction of people's preferences and toward making people happy instead. Although information about happiness may sometimes be of use, the notion of happiness is sufficiently ambiguous and the objections to identifying welfare with happiness are sufficiently serious that welfare economists are better off using preference satisfaction as a measure of welfare. The essay also examines and criticizes the position associated (...) with Daniel Kahneman and a number of co-authors that takes welfare to be ‘objective happiness’ – that is, the sum of momentary pleasures. (shrink)
The tenuous claims of cost-benefit analysis to guide policy so as to promote welfare turn on measuring welfare by preference satisfaction and taking willingness-to-pay to indicate preferences. Yet it is obvious that people's preferences are not always self-interested and that false beliefs may lead people to prefer what is worse for them even when people are self-interested. So welfare is not preference satisfaction, and hence it appears that cost-benefit analysis and welfare economics in general rely on a mistaken theory of (...) well-being. This essay explores the difficulties, criticizes standard defences of welfare economics, and then offers a new partial defence that maintains that welfare economics is independent of any philosophical theory of well-being. Welfare economics requires nothing more than an evidential connection between preference and welfare: in circumstances in which people are concerned with their own interests and reasonably good judges of what will serve their interests, their preferences will be reliable indicators of what is good for them. (shrink)
This essay attempts to distinguish the pressing issues for economists and economic methodologists concerning realism in economics from those issues that are of comparatively slight importance. In particular I shall argue that issues concerning the goals of science are of considerable interest in economics, unlike issues concerning the evidence for claims about unobservables, which have comparatively little relevance. In making this argument, this essay raises doubts about the two programs in contemporary economic methodology that raise the banner of realism. In (...) particular I argue that the banner makes it more difficult to relate the concerns of those who wave it to those of other methodologists. Although this essay argues that many of the debates in this century between scientific realists and their opponents are not relevant to economics, it does not attack scientific realism, and it does not urge economists or economic methodologists to reject it. (shrink)
The psychological condition of happiness is normally considered a paradigm subjective good, and is closely associated with subjectivist accounts of well-being. This article argues that the value of happiness is best accounted for by a non-subjectivist approach to welfare: a eudaimonistic account that grounds well-being in the fulfillment of our natures, specifically in self-fulfillment. And self-fulfillment consists partly in authentic happiness. A major reason for this is that happiness, conceived in terms of emotional state, bears a special relationship to the (...) self. These arguments also point to a more sentimentalist approach to well-being than one finds in most contemporary accounts, particularly among Aristotelian forms of eudaimonism. (shrink)
It is extraordinary, when one thinks about it, how little attention has been paid by theorists of the nature and justification of punishment to the idea that punishment is essentially a matter of self-defense. H. L. A. Hart, for example, in his famous “Prolegomenon to the Principles of Punishment,” is clearly committed to the view that, at bottom, there are just three directions in which a plausible theory of punishment can go: we can try to justify punishment on purely consequentialist (...) grounds, which for Hart, I think, would be to try to construct a purely utilitarian justification of punishment; we can try to justify punishment on purely retributive grounds; or we can try to justify punishment on grounds that are some sort of shrewd combination of consequentialist and retributive considerations. Entirely absent from Hart's discussion is any consideration of the possibility that punishment might be neither a matter of maximizing the good, nor of exacting retribution for a wrongful act, nor of some imaginative combination of these things, but, rather, of something altogether different from either of them: namely, the exercise of a fundamental right of self-protection. Similarly, but much more recently, R. A. Duff, despite the fact that he himself introduces and defends an extremely interesting fourth possibility, begins his discussion by writing as though, apart from his contribution, there are available to us essentially just the options previously sketched by Hart. Again, there is no mention here, any more than in Hart's or any number of other recent discussions, of the possibility that we might be able to justify the institution of punishment on grounds that are indeed forward-looking, to use Hart's famous term, but that are not at all consequentialist in any ordinary sense of the word. (shrink)
In ordinary circumstances, human actions have a myriad of unintended and often unforeseen consequences for the lives of other people. Problems of pollution are serious examples, but spillovers and side effects are the rule, not the exception. Who knows what consequences this essay may have? This essay is concerned with the problems of justice created by spillovers. After characterizing such spillovers more precisely and relating the concept to the economist's notion of an externality, I shall then consider the moral conclusions (...) concerning spillovers that issue from a natural rights perspective and from the perspective of welfare economics supplemented with theories of distributive justice. I shall argue that these perspectives go badly awry in taking spillovers to be the exception rather than the rule in human interactions. I. Externalities Economists have discussed spillovers under the heading of “externalities.” To say this is not very helpful, since there is so much disagreement concerning both the definition and significance of externalities. (shrink)
The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics offers an overview of standard microeconomics and general equilibrium theory. These are not the whole of orthodox economics, and orthodox economics is not the whole of economics. But orthodox economics dominates the profession, and the theoretical core of microeconomics and general equilibrium theory – what I called ‘equilibrium theory’ – is central to most orthodox economics. Unlike many methodological works, which focus almost exclusively on the empirical problems of equilibrium theory and its applications, (...) ISSE is also concerned with the structure, strategy and heuristics of equilibrium theorizing, and it attempts to link questions about theory appraisal to questions about structure and strategy. It is addressed both to philosophers interested in epistemological questions posed by the social sciences and to economists interested in reflecting on and improving their discipline. Its inspiration lies in the work of John Stuart Mill. (shrink)
In this book Daniel Wegner offers a novel understanding of the relation of consciousness, the will, and our intentional and voluntary actions. Wegner claims that our experience and common sense view according to which we can influence our behavior roughly the way we experience that we do it is an illusion.
With the collapse of the centrally controlled economies and the authoritarian governments of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics, political leaders are, with appreciable public support, espousing “liberal” economic and political transformations—the reinstitution of markets, the securing of civil and political rights, and the establishment of representative governments. But those supporting reform have many aims, and the liberalism to which they look for political guidance is not an unambiguous doctrine.
This book offers a comprehensive overview of the structure, strategy and methods of assessment of orthodox theoretical economics. In Part I Professor Hausman explains how economists theorise, emphasising the essential underlying commitment of economists to a vision of economics as a separate science. In Part II he defends the view that the basic axioms of economics are 'inexact' since they deal only with the 'major' causes; unlike most writers on economic methodology, the author argues that it is the rules that (...) economists espouse rather than their practice that is at fault. Part III links the conception of economics as a separate science to the fact that economic theories offer reasons and justifications for human actions, not just their causes. With its lengthy appendix introducing relevant issues in philosophy of science, this book is a major addition to philosophy of economics and of social science. (shrink)
Dan Haybron presents an illuminating examination of well-being, drawing on important recent work in the science of happiness. He shows that we are remarkably prone to error in judgements of our own personal welfare, and suggests that we should rethink traditional assumptions about the good life and the good society.
This book is about preferences, principally as they figure in economics. It also explores their uses in everyday language and action, how they are understood in psychology and how they figure in philosophical reflection on action and morality. The book clarifies and for the most part defends the way in which economists invoke preferences to explain, predict and assess behavior and outcomes. Hausman argues, however, that the predictions and explanations economists offer rely on theories of preference formation that are in (...) need of further development, and he criticizes attempts to define welfare in terms of preferences and to define preferences in terms of choices or self-interest. The analysis clarifies the relations between rational choice theory and philosophical accounts of human action. The book also assembles the materials out of which models of preference formation and modification can be constructed, and it comments on how reason and emotion shape preferences. (shrink)
This book, by one of the pre-eminent philosophers of science writing today, offers the most comprehensive account available of causal asymmetries. Causation is asymmetrical in many different ways. Causes precede effects; explanations cite causes not effects. Agents use causes to manipulate their effects; they don't use effects to manipulate their causes. Effects of a common cause are correlated; causes of a common effect are not. This book explains why a relationship that is asymmetrical in one of these regards is asymmetrical (...) in the others. Hausman discovers surprising hidden connections between theories of causation and traces them all to an asymmetry of independence. This is a major book for philosophers of science that will also prove insightful to economists and statisticians. (shrink)
Three studies test eight hypotheses about (1) how judgment differs between people who ascribe greater vs. less moral relevance to choices, (2) how moral judgment is subject to task constraints that shift evaluative focus (to moral rules vs. to consequences), and (3) how differences in the propensity to rely on intuitive reactions affect judgment. In Study 1, judgments were affected by rated agreement with moral rules proscribing harm, whether the dilemma under consideration made moral rules versus consequences of choice salient, (...) and by thinking styles (intuitive vs. deliberative). In Studies 2 and 3, participants evaluated policy decisions to knowingly do harm to a resource to mitigate greater harm or to merely allow the greater harm to happen. When evaluated in isolation, approval for decisions to harm was affected by endorsement of moral rules and by thinking style. When both choices were evaluated simultaneously, total harm -- but not the do/allow distinction -- influenced rated approval. These studies suggest that moral rules play an important, but context-sensitive role in moral cognition, and offer an account of when emotional reactions to perceived moral violations receive less weight than consideration of costs and benefits in moral judgment and decision making. (shrink)
This essay explains what the Causal Markov Condition says and defends the condition from the many criticisms that have been launched against it. Although we are skeptical about some of the applications of the Causal Markov Condition, we argue that it is implicit in the view that causes can be used to manipulate their effects and that it cannot be surrendered without surrendering this view of causation.
We often consciously will our own actions. This experience is so profound that it tempts us to believe that our actions are caused by consciousness. It could also be a trick, however – the mind’s way of estimating its own apparent authorship by drawing causal inferences about relationships between thoughts and actions. Cognitive, social, and neuropsychological studies of apparent mental causation suggest that experiences of conscious will frequently depart from actual causal processes and so might not reﬂect direct perceptions of (...) conscious thought causing action. (shrink)
Participants watched themselves in a mirror while another person behind them, hidden from view, extended hands forward on each side where participants’ hands would normally appear. The hands performed a series of movements. When participants could hear instructions previewing each movement, they reported an enhanced feeling of controlling the hands. Hearing instructions for the movements also enhanced skin conductance responses when a rubber band was snapped on the other’s wrist after the movements. Such vicarious agency was not felt when the (...) instructions followed the movements, and participants’ own covert movement mimicry was not essential to the influence of previews on reported control. (shrink)
This essay develops an account of health, the functional efficiency theory, which derives from Christopher Boorse's biostatistical theory. Like the BST, the functional efficiency theory is a nonevaluative view of health, but unlike the BST, it argues that the fundamental theoretical task is to distinguish levels of efficiency with which the parts and processes within organisms and within systems within organisms function. Which of these to label as healthy or pathological is of secondary importance. Because the statistical distributions that Boorse's (...) account relies on are distributions of functional efficiency, the functional efficiency theory arguably complements rather than challenges the BST. (shrink)
ABSTRACT:This paper examines the norms that should guide policies aimed at promoting happiness or, more broadly, well-being. In particular, we take up the question of which conception of well-being should govern well-being policy, assuming some such policies to be legitimate. In answer, we lay out a case for ‘pragmatic subjectivism’: given widely accepted principles of respect for persons, well-being policy may not assume any view of well-being, subjectivist or objectivist. Rather, it should promote what its intended beneficiaries see as good (...) for them: pleasure for hedonists, excellence for Aristotelians, etc. Specifically, well-being policy should promote citizens’ ‘personal welfare values’: those values—and not mere preferences—that individuals see as bearing on their well-being. Finally, we briefly consider how pragmatic subjectivism works in practice. While our discussion takes for granted the legitimacy of well-being policy, we suggest that pragmatic subjectivism strengthens the case for such policy. (shrink)
This paper aims to show that widespread, serious errors in the self-assessment of affect are a genuine possibility-one worth taking very seriously. For we are subject to a variety of errors concerning the character of our present and past affective states, or "affective ignorance." For example, some affects, particularly moods, can greatly affect the quality of our experience even when we are unable to discern them. I note several implications of these arguments. First, we may be less competent pursuers of (...) happiness than is commonly believed, raising difficult questions for political thought. Second, some of the errors discussed ramify for our understanding of consciousness, including Ned Block's controversial distinction between access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness. Third, empirical results based on self-reports about affect may be systematically misleading in certain ways. (shrink)
The experience of conscious will is the feeling that we are doing things. This feeling occurs for many things we do, conveying to us again and again the sense that we consciously cause our actions. But the feeling may not be a true reading of what is happening in our minds, brains, and bodies as our actions are produced. The feeling of conscious will can be fooled. This happens in clinical disorders such as alien hand syndrome, dissociative identity disorder, and (...) schizophrenic auditory hallucinations. And in people without disorders, phenomena such as hypnosis, automatic writing, Ouija board spelling, water dowsing, facilitated communication, speaking in tongues, spirit possession, and trance channeling also illustrate anomalies of will – cases when actions occur without will or will occurs without action. This book brings these cases together with research evidence from laboratories in psychology to explore a theory of apparent mental causation. According to this theory, when a thought appears in consciousness just prior to an action, is consistent with the action, and appears exclusive of salient alternative causes of the action, we experience conscious will and ascribe authorship to ourselves for the action. Experiences of conscious will thus arise from processes whereby the mind interprets itself – not from processes whereby mind creates action. Conscious will, in this view, is an indication that we think we have caused an action, not a revelation of the causal sequence by which the action was produced. Key Words: apparent mental causation; automatism; conscious will; determinism; free will; perceived control. (shrink)
Most of us spend our lives striving for happiness. But what is it? How important is it? How can we (and should we) pursue it? In this Very Short Introduction Dan Haybron provides a comprehensive look at the nature of happiness. By using examples, Haybron considers how we measure happiness, what makes us happy, and considers its subjective nature.
This essay argues that what is central to Christopher Boorse’s biostatistical theory of disease as statistically subnormal part function (BST) are comparisons of the “functional efficiency” of parts and processes and that statistical considerations serve only to pick out a healthy level of functional efficiency. On this interpretation, the distinction between health and pathology is less important than comparisons of functional efficiency, which are entirely independent of statistical considerations. The clarifications or revisions of the BST that this essay offers are (...) friendly amendments that render moot some of the most prominent criticisms of Boorse’s account. (shrink)
expose some gaps and difficulties in the argument for the causal Markov condition in our essay ‘Independence, Invariance and the Causal Markov Condition’ (), and we are grateful for the opportunity to reformulate our position. In particular, Cartwright disagrees vigorously with many of the theses we advance about the connection between causation and manipulation. Although we are not persuaded by some of her criticisms, we shall confine ourselves to showing how our central argument can be reconstructed and to casting doubt (...) on Cartwright's claim that the causal Markov condition typically fails when there are indeterministic by-products. Why believe the causal Markov condition? Causation and manipulation The argument Indeterministic by-products and the causal Markov condition The chemical factory counterexample and PM2 Conclusions: causation and manipulability. (shrink)
The notion of ‘revealed preference’ is unclear and should be abandoned. Defenders of the theory of revealed preference have misinterpreted legitimate concerns about the testability of economics as the demand that economists eschew reference to (unobservable) subjective states. As attempts to apply revealed-preference theory to game theory illustrate with particular vividness, this demand is mistaken.
It has long been taken for granted that clinical research involving human subjects is ethical only if it holds out the prospect of producing socially valuable knowledge. Recently, this social value requirement has come under scrutiny, with prominent ethicists arguing that the social value requirement cannot be substantiated as an ethical limit on clinical research, and others attempting to offer new support. In this paper, I argue that both criticisms and existing defenses of the social value requirement are predicated on (...) what I call the “transactional model of stakeholder obligations”. I go on to problematize this framework, and to introduce an alternative framework for conceptualizing ethical obligations within clinical research. In defending this framework, which I call the “basic structure model of stakeholder obligations”, I also demonstrate how it provides a stronger grounding for the social value requirement that is not vulnerable to critiques grounded in the transactional model. (shrink)
Key Words mental control, intrusive thought, rebound effect, ironic processes Abstract Although thought suppression is a popular form of mental control, research has indicated that it can be counterproductive, helping assure the very state of mind one had hoped to avoid. This chapter reviews the research on suppression, which spans a wide range of domains, including emotions, memory, interpersonal processes, psychophysiological reactions, and psychopathology. The chapter considers the relevant methodological and theoretical issues and suggests directions for future research.
Princess Diana’s death was a tragedy that provoked mourning across the globe; the death of a homeless person, more often than not, is met with apathy. How can we account for this uneven distribution of emotion? Can it simply be explained by the prevailing scientific understanding? Uncovering a rich tradition beginning with Aristotle, _The Secret History of Emotion_ offers a counterpoint to the way we generally understand emotions today. Through a radical rereading of Aristotle, Seneca, Thomas Hobbes, Sarah Fielding, and (...) Judith Butler, among others, Daniel M. Gross reveals a persistent intellectual current that considers emotions as psychosocial phenomena. In Gross’s historical analysis of emotion, Aristotle and Hobbes’s rhetoric show that our passions do not stem from some inherent, universal nature of men and women, but rather are conditioned by power relations and social hierarchies. He follows up with consideration of how political passions are distributed to some people but not to others using the Roman Stoics as a guide. Hume and contemporary theorists like Judith Butler, meanwhile, explain to us how psyches are shaped by power. To supplement his argument, Gross also provides a history and critique of the dominant modern view of emotions, expressed in Darwinism and neurobiology, in which they are considered organic, personal feelings independent of social circumstances. The result is a convincing work that rescues the study of the passions from science and returns it to the humanities and the art of rhetoric. (shrink)