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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Judging others' deprivation: Adaptive preferences, moral diversity, and the good
by Khader, Serene Joy, Ph.D., State University of New York at Stony Brook, 2008, 301; 3406701
Abstract (Summary)

I develop a justification of intervention by public institutions aimed at transforming adaptive preferences—preferences held by oppressed or deprived persons that seem complicit in perpetuating their oppression and deprivation. International development practitioners must identify and respond to adaptive preferences in order to promote the interests of development beneficiaries. However, identifying and responding to adaptive preferences poses ethical problems. What makes adaptive preferences worthy of special moral treatment? Can intervention to transform adaptive preferences be compatible with respect for personal autonomy and the variety of conceptions of the good across cultures?

I claim that we need a perfectionist conception of the good rather than a conception of autonomy to diagnose and appropriately respond to adaptive preferences. I offer an account of the apparent inauthenticity of adaptive preferences based on the idea that human beings have a propensity toward basic flourishing. This account entails a conception of the good, and I suggest that an appropriately formulated “deliberative perfectionist” conception enables adaptive preference identification without objectionable paternalism.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kittay, Eva Feder
School: State University of New York at Stony Brook
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Ethics, Philosophy, Womens studies, Political science
Keywords: Adaptive preference, Capability approach, Deprivation, Development ethics, Internalized oppression, Moral diversity, Nussbaum, Martha Craven, Oppression
Publication Number: 3406701
ISBN: 978-1-109-73864-3
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