Permissible preference purification: on context-dependent choices and decisive welfare judgements in behavioural welfare economics

Måns Abrahamson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Behavioural welfare economics has lately been challenged on account of its use of the satisfaction of true preferences as a normative criterion. The critique contests what is taken to be an implicit assumption in the literature, namely that true preferences are context-independent. This assumption is considered not only unjustified in the behavioural welfare economics literature but unjustifiable–true preferences are argued to be, at least sometimes, context-dependent. This article explores the implications of this ‘critique of the inner rational agent’. I argue that the critique does not support a wholesale shift away from the use of true preferences as an evaluative standard in normative economics; instead, the critique implies that behavioural welfare economists need to inquire into and establish the ‘source’ of particular context-dependent choices in individuals’ decision-making. The source determines the permissibility of correcting individuals’ context-dependent choices and can, in some situations, support decisive welfare judgements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-35
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Economic Methodology
Volume31
Issue number1
Early online date15 Sept 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding:
This project has received funding from the Erasmus Initiative‘Smarter Choices for Better Health’.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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