Preference-utilitarianism and Past Preferences

The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 40:106-116 (1998)
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Abstract

A well-known problem for preference-utilitarianism is to what extent it should exclude from consideration certain preferences. In this paper I focus on past preferences. I outline three general and some particular positions that a preference-utilitarian reasonably would want to take with regard to past preferences and why I think that endorsing each of these positions create new problems for the preference-utilitarian. At the end I sketch on a possible solution to the axiological problems here presented. However, although the pluralistic approach that I outline shares with preference-utilitarianism the idea that what is valuable is the satisfaction of preferences, it is not a viable option for a utilitarian. My conclusion is therefore that preference-utilitarianism faces a serious axilogical problem.

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