This Meet the Expert workshop discussed the assertion that desire or preference-satisfaction theories of well-being are fundamentally misconceived. A state of affairs that is not otherwise good for an individual does not become good for the individual because the individual desires it. Consider cases in which, for example, a person forms a desire that a stranger he meets on a train be cured of a dangerous disease. The satisfaction of that desire does not make him better off. The explanation given by defenders of preference or desire satisfaction theories is that such desires, whose satisfaction does not enhance the agent’s well-being, do not concern the agent’s own life. That response fails, because the satisfaction of preferences that are self-directed but which do not aim at the agent’s own benefit does not, except by chance, promote the agent’s well-being. What makes satisfying my desires so often good for me is the fact that I frequently desire things that are in some other way good for me. Preference or desire satisfaction theories tell us nothing about what constitutes well-being. They instead piggy-back on the judgments of individuals concerning what promotes their well-being, understood in some other way than as preference or desire satisfaction.
March 5th, 2018
9:00 – 11:30 a.m.
ceres Lecture Room
Universitätsstr. 91, 2nd Floor
Dan Hausman grew up in Chicago suburbs and then attended Harvard College, where he majored first in biochemistry and then received his BA in 1969 in English history and literature. After teaching intermediate school in the Bronx and earning a Master of Arts in Teaching degree at New York University, he spent two years studying moral sciences at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge before earning his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1978 at Columbia University. He has taught at the University of Maryland at College Park, Carnegie Mellon University, and, since 1988 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he has visited at the Institute for Advanced Studies and the London School of Economics. Most of his research has focused on methodological, metaphysical, and
ethical issues at the boundaries between economics and philosophy, and in collaboration with Michael McPherson, he founded the journal Economics and Philosophy and edited it for its first ten years. He is also the editor of The Philosophy of Economics: An Anthology (3rd edition 2007). His most important books are Capital, Profits, and Prices: An Essay in the Philosophy of Economics (1981), The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics (1992), Economic Analysis and Moral Philosophy (co-authored with Michael McPherson in 1996), Causal Asymmetries (1998), Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy (co-authored with Michael McPherson in 2006), and Preference, Value, Choice and Welfare (2011),
Causal Asymmetries (1998), Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy (co-authored with Michael McPherson in 2006), and Preference, Value, Choice and Welfare (2011). His most recent book is Valuing Health:Well-Being, Freedom, and Suffering (2015).