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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

What's Wrong with Adaptive Preference?
by Melnitzer, Shane Bodhi, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2020, 157; 28156344
Abstract (Summary)

Standardly conceived, an adaptive preference is a preference for what a person can get because they can get it, and against what one can’t because they can’t. Adaptive Preferences have interested philosophers because they are widely held to be defective, though stating what about them is defective is itself a matter of intense controversy. This dissertation proposes a theory of adaptive preference. First, I provide a novel account of the distinction between adaptive and standard preference change. Against the common view, I argue not only that an adaptive preference is better understood as a response to what an agent will not get- rather than a response to what she cannot get, or what is infeasible- but also that what is most distinctive about adaptive preference is the character of that response. What makes an adaptive preference change different from a standard preference change- one in which an agent will downgrade an alternative in virtue of its undesirable properties- is that the adaptive agent downgrades an alternative in virtue of its desirable properties. Next, I use this account to explain what is defective about adaptive preference, arguing that the factors that are commonly invoked to explain an adaptive preference do not in fact supply reasons for one. Or at least, I argue, they do not supply what are sometimes called ‘content-related’ reasons. Instead, an adaptive preference is a preference formed for the Wrong Kind of Reason, where attitudes formed for the Wrong Kind of Reason are commonly thought to be irrational. Finally, I respond to skeptical worries about the problem of adaptive preference according to which adaptive preferences are either not problematic at all or are too uncommon to be of much interest.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Oddie, Graham
Commitee: Fileva, Iskra, Hale, Benjamin, Huemer, Michael , Norcross, Alastair
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Philosophy
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 82/6(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Ethics, Behavioral Sciences, Personality psychology
Keywords: Call to action, Adaptive preference, Rationality
Publication Number: 28156344
ISBN: 9798557023108
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