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OPPORTUNITY AND PREFERENCE LEARNING

Christian Schubert ()

Economics and Philosophy, 2015, vol. 31, issue 2, 275-295

Abstract: Robert Sugden has suggested a normative standard of freedom as ‘opportunity’ that is supposed to help realign normative economics – with its traditional rational choice orientation – with behavioural economics. While allowing preferences to be incoherent, he wants to maintain the anti-paternalist stance of orthodox welfare economics. His standard, though, presupposes that people respond to uncertainty about their own future preferences by dismissing any kind of self-constraint. We argue that the approach lacks psychological substance: Sugden's normative benchmark – the ‘responsible person’ – can hardly serve as a convincing role model in a contractarian setting. An alternative concept is introduced, and some implications are briefly discussed.

Date: 2015
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Working Paper: Opportunity and Preference Learning (2012) Downloads
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