Aggregating Moral Preferences

Economics and Philosophy, Volume 32, pp. 283-321, 2016

Posted: 31 May 2016

Date Written: January 01, 2016


Preference-aggregation problems arise in various contexts. One such context, little explored by social choice theorists, is metaethical. “Ideal-advisor” accounts, which have played a major role in metaethics, propose that moral facts are constituted by the idealized preferences of a community of advisors. Such accounts give rise to a preference-aggregation problem: namely, aggregating the advisors’ moral preferences. Do we have reason to believe that the advisors, albeit idealized, can still diverge in their rankings of a given set of alternatives? If so, what are the moral facts (in particular, the comparative moral goodness of the alternatives) when the advisors do diverge? These questions are investigated here using the tools of Arrovian social choice theory.

Keywords: Metaethics, Ideal Advisor, Preference Aggregation, Social Choice, Moral Preferences

Suggested Citation

Adler, Matthew D., Aggregating Moral Preferences (January 01, 2016). Economics and Philosophy, Volume 32, pp. 283-321, 2016. Available at SSRN:

Matthew D. Adler (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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