'As Judged By Themselves': Transformative Experiences and Endogenous Preferences

8 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2019

See all articles by L. A. Paul

L. A. Paul

Yale University

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: September 17, 2019

Abstract

One way to evaluate various interventions in people’s lives is to ask whether they make choosers better off, “as judged by themselves.” This criterion can be understood to borrow from the liberal political tradition insofar as it makes the judgments of choosers authoritative. Giving ultimate authority to choosers might be taken to respect their autonomy and also promote their welfare (insofar as people are uniquely situated to know whether choices make them better off). But for certain decisions, the “as judged by themselves” criterion is indeterminate. In such cases, what people care about shifts, depending on their choice. Some choices change people’s preferences and values, and in this sense, change their identity. In these situations, sometimes involving transformative experiences, the criterion does not offer a unique solution. It is possible that welfarist criteria will resolve the indeterminacy, despite serious questions about incommensurability. Considerations of autonomy are also relevant to choice-influencing interventions that promote transformative experiences.

Suggested Citation

Paul, L. A. and Sunstein, Cass R., 'As Judged By Themselves': Transformative Experiences and Endogenous Preferences (September 17, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3455421 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3455421

L. A. Paul

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Cass R. Sunstein (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts Ave
Areeda Hall 225
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
151
Abstract Views
1,280
rank
197,839
PlumX Metrics