Chapter

Choice: Reason and Value

David Gauthier

in Morals by Agreement

Published in print May 1987 | ISBN: 9780198249924
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597497 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198249926.003.0002
Choice: Reason and Value

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Since our theory of morals is part of rational choice, we must examine its apparatus and assumptions, beginning from the underlying idea that an agent chooses rationally in maximizing her utility, considered as a measure of her preferences. However, we reject the purely behavioural view of preference held by some economists, arguing that rational choice depends on considered preferences that have both a behavioural and an attitudinal dimension, and are based on adequate experience and reflection. We set out the formal conditions on preferences that are required to define utility as an interval measure. We then turn to the claim that utility represents value, defending a conception of value that is subjective, dependent on affective relationships, and relative to each individual.

Keywords: preference; rational choice; relative value; subjective value; utility; value

Chapter.  16389 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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