Journal Article

Rational choice theory and moral action

Jan P. R. de Jonge

in Socio-Economic Review

Published on behalf of Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Volume 3, issue 1, pages 117-132
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1475-1461
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1475-147X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/SER/mwi003
Rational choice theory and moral action

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In his article ‘The Case for a Multiple Utility Function’ (Economics and Philosophy, 2, 159–83), Etzioni took the view that moral acts are qualitatively different from acts aimed at the satisfaction of desires. He introduced moral preferences and argued that these cannot be traded off against non-moral preferences and that, therefore, the quest for want-satisfaction and the sense of moral obligation are best kept apart. Acceptance of this view would lead to the practice of multiple utility functions. My aim is to show that the idea of a moral preference is only feasible as a meta-preference, and that the art of meta-ranking is practised when ranking incomparable preferences.

Keywords: rational choice; moral preference; moral constraint; meta-ranking; JEL classification: A12, D63, D64

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Corporate Social Responsibility ; Welfare Economics ; Political Economy ; Economic Sociology

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