Passions and Interests: Self-Control and Well-Being

Avner Offer

in The Challenge of Affluence

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780199216628
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191696015 | DOI:

Series: The Challenge of Affluence

Passions and Interests: Self-Control and Well-Being

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The privileging of individual choice is founded on contestable premises. It assumes that every person has a set of unique and well-ordered preferences, that one is fully informed of all the choices available, and has sufficient self-command to achieve his ends. What people end up choosing cannot be taken as a proper measure of their welfare. Choice is fallible. The main difficulty is in reconciling immediate desires with the commitment required to achieve more remote objectives. Since individual calculation is not reliable, people fall back on social conventions, norms, and institutions. These commitment devices form the fabric of civilisation. To achieve a set of desires encompassing the present and the future, it is necessary to ensure the enduring commitment of other people, and also of one's own self. It also requires a capacity for social interaction, and for command over the cognitive and emotional resources of self-control.

Keywords: self-control; choice; norms; commitment

Chapter.  7459 words.  Illustrated.

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