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Some Mistakes about Preferences


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Speaker(s): Professor Daniel Hausman
Chair: Dr Armin Schulz

Recorded on 13 December 2010 in 1.07, New Academic Building.

Preferences are the central notion in mainstream economic theory, yet economists say little about what preferences are. This talk argues that preferences in mainstream positive economics are comparative evaluations with respect to everything relevant to value or choice, and it argues against three mistaken views of preferences: (1) that they are matters of taste, concerning which rational assessment is inappropriate, (2) that preferences coincide with judgments of expected self-interested benefit, and (3) that preferences can be defined in terms of choices. Daniel Hausman is Herbert A. Simon Professor in the department of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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