Lisa Hecht (Stockholm): “Permissible Risk-Inclination in Other-regarding Choices”

Faced with two or more options, a decision-maker may choose a riskier option for herself even if this option does not maximize her expected utility. When it comes to other-regarding choices, it is less clear whether a decision-maker may permissibly choose a riskier option that does not maximize the expected utility of the affected individual. The two dominant views in the literature require the decision-maker to either maximize expected utility or to choose with risk-aversion. In this paper, I argue that it is sometimes permissible to choose a riskier but non-maximizing option for another individual. The challenge here, as for the dominant views, is to find a justification that the affected individual can accept regardless of how the gamble turns out. I consider three possible justifications for risk-inclined other-regarding choices. As will become clear, risk-inclination seems easier to justify when the decision-maker and the affected individual are in a situation of vulnerability with only bad options to choose from.


Lisa Hecht is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Philosophy at Stockholm University.