Archive for March, 2010

coidados e intereses

Non está sendo a falta de ganas nin se quera a falla de materiais que achegar: saio agora dunhas semanas no que as tarefas rutinarias e repetitivas me teñen impedido renovar contidos. Despois de compilar unha cantidade de material considerable en torno a temas que van dende a posibilidade de medición do benestar ata a súa subxectividade –e continxencia- paso a esa parte do traballo que presta (cunde). Adoro a análise de textos.

Estou con Sen e máis con Foucault. Para abrir boca. Sendo dúas figuras tan diferentes os dous comparten a paixón polo estudo das poboacións. Un centrándose na privación –fames negras, analfabetismo, mulleres non nacidas (preferencia polo fillo varón); en aspectos de medición do benestar, na lóxica aplicada a determinados principios éticos e o que o seu desenvolvemento implica; as relacións ética / economía. Michel no control das poboacións, as relación do suxeito cos xogos de verdade, as prácticas coercitivas, e tamén as prácticas de si.

En Doce textos fundamentales de la Ética del siglo XX figura unha entrevista que se lle fixo a Foucault e na que se lle preguntaba sobre cuestións que teñen que ver coa Ética:

-Dice usted que hay que practicar la libertad éticamente…

Sí, porque ¿qué es la ética sino la práctica de la libertad, la práctica reflexiva de la libertad?

-¿Quiere esto decir que entiende usted la libertad como una realidad en sí misma ya ética?

La libertad es la condición ontológica de la ética. Pero la ética es la forma reflexiva que adopta la libertad.

Ao pensar sobre as relacións que se establecen entre o interese propio e o benestar xeral hai dous dominios intrincados que me teñen unha topoloxía suxestiva: o interese propio en si mesmo e a súa relación coa liberdade, pero tamén coa obediencia, a disciplina –pensemos no mundo da empresa e do traballo-. A construcción tradicional en Economía faise establecendo unha relación directa e estable entre intrese propio e maximización do mesmo coa racionalidade como mediadora (en palabras de Sen). O sengundo é sobre, digamos, a ontoloxía do Benestar. Pódese medir a prosperidade dos cidadáns da polis? Como poñer os menos atrancos posibles á súa felicidade? É significativo que moita da Economía do Benestar se basee no estudo do consumo, onde hai que escoller entre peras e mazás. Nesta análise tamén se inclúe o mundo do traballo, si, como unha elección racional entre tempo de ocio e tempo de traballo. Non podo deixar de pensar nas relacións que deben existir entre o mundo das frustracións e do consumo, por exemplo. As frustracións laborais e  os desafogos diversos; os centros comerciais, o entretaiment, e moitos etcétras. Todos estes problemas relacionados coa consideración da racionalidade do consumo e o benestar (ou malestar) deron pe a que economistas como A. Sen puxesen rumbo a outros indicadores, máis complexos, e que requiren dunha outra metodoloxía. E nace o seu enfoque das capacidades: non suxeito ás enormes ataduras que tiña un enfoque baseado na racionalidades das decisións de consumo pero que conta coas súas propias. Que variables incluímos para medir aspectos que teñen que ver co desenvolvemento das persoas? Educación, mortalidade, diferenciais de xénero, participación cidadá na política e nos seus destinos?… e aínda máis: como medimos?, que indicadores construímos sobre esas variables? Para facer un macro-indicador sintético como ponderamos?

e volvendo ao interese propio, despois deste paseo polas nubes, di Foucault:

El cuidado de sí ha sido, en el mundo grecorromano, el modo en que la libertad individual –o la libertad cívica, hasta cierto punto- se ha reflexionado como ética. Si toma usted toda una serie de textos que van desde los primeros diálgos platónicos hasta los grandes textos del estoicismo tardío –Epiceto, Marco Aurelio…- comprobará que este tema del cuidado de sí ha atravesado verdaderamente toda la reflexión moral. Es interesante ver cómo, en nuestras sociedades, por el contrario, a partir de un determinado momento –y es muy difícil saber cuándo se produjo esto-, el cuidado de sí ha llegado a ser algo un tanto sospechoso. A partir de dicho momento, ocuparse de sí ha sido denunciado con toda naturalidad como una forma de amor a uno mismo, como una forma de egoísmo o de interés individual, en contradicción con el interés que hay que prestar a los otros o con el necesario sacrificio de uno mismmo.

Non fala Foucault do nacemento e evolución do concepto de interese propio –hai un excelente libro de Hirchman ao respecto-; dista de todas formas un mundo do coidado de si ao interese propio da Economía, penso. E non podo dicir moito máis porque aínda estou en proceso… e comezando.

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desfase? –gap?

Cando collemos un manual calquera de Economía no que se fale de benestar e da súa relación coa utilidade, ou do utilitarismo como corrente filosófica que estivo detrás do benestarismo, ou da relación entre os valores propios –as valoracións sobre as cousas, incluso na súa máis prosaica materialidade-… dánsenos moi masticadiñas. Non só iso, e estou a falar todo o tempo de impresións persoais miñas, dásenos unha versión da filosofía utilitarista -e as súas proximidades- que non ten moito que ver co que se está a discutir hoxe entre os filósofos utilitaristas. Algúns dos máis prominentes son moi críticos que xeito de implementar e de representar os valores que asociamos ao benestar, son críticos algúns destes pensadores -a maioría anglosaxóns- co xeito no que abordamos as cuestións éticas en Economía. Agora que comezo a ler algo sobre o tema é a primeira vez que teño noticia diso: non están mudos, xordos, e/ou cegos os filósofos utilitaristas -e asimilados-.

Xa trouxen algo de Broome, hoxe tócalle a Griffin. Máis que cita aporte un tanto extenso: por se interesa. Atentos ás dúas citas, sobre todo á primeira.

Libro: Interpersonal comparisons of well-being.

(Elster and Roemer Ed.)

Against the Taste Model (páxinas 46, 47 e 48.)

James Griffin

The Taste Model.

There are two influential models of how desire and value are related. The Perception Model gives priority to value: desired because valuable. That is, we judge or recognize something to be valuable and therefore form a desire for it. The Taste Model reserves the priority: valuable because desired. That is, given the sort of biological and psychological creatures we are, our desires come to fix on certain objects, which thereby acquire value.

Both models employ the commonplace separation of a rational side of human nature (judgment, understanding, perception) from an attitudinal side (feeling, sentiment, desire, will). One can see these attitudes either as part of a universally distributed human nature or as varying a lot between people. No doubt there is some truth in both of these views, and it is a matter of emphasis. But it is common (and, many would say, empirically plausible) to give the Taste Model the second emphasis, and I shall do that.

As these two models show, we ought to be alert to two different sorts of preferences. Clearly, we form preferences between objects. On the Perception Model, thought, I form a (derivative) preference between two options only after having independently decided on their value. No doubt some preference is like that. But on the Taste Model, desire is the basis of value. On that model I form (basic) preferences for one option over another, not derived from any independent ranking of them, just because I want the the first more than the second.

The Taste Model is widespread in philosophy and, even more, in social sciences1.

p. 46.

I also think that it distorts our understanding, and I want to argue against it. But in order to be against the Taste Model, one does not have to be in favor of the Perception Model. For instance, one might instead think that there is no priority between value and desire. And one might think that the Humean distinction between reason and desire is too sharp.

  1. Some of its history.

Hume explains all value –aesthetic, moral, prudential- on the Taste Model. He sees reason as inert, able merely to inform us of how things stand; motivation and action come only from our conative response to those things.

Kant follows Hume on prudence but emphatically refuses to do so on morality. Many think –I am one of them- that there are good reasons to reject the Taste Model form moral values. Kant’s reasons are these. We all want to be happy. But what would make us happy depends upon our particular desires, interests, inclinations, and dispositions. But they are the result of such contingencies as our biological make-up, the era into which we happen to have been born, the influence of our parents, and so on. They all operate on the phenomenal level; they grow and get shaped entirely within the causal nexus. And we, so long as we are seen just on the level of desires, aims, and inclinations, are purely phenomenal selves, determined by things external to us – in Kant’s terms heteronomous. What happens to us on that level is brute fact. It therefore offers no place for anything the standing of a moral agent. We rise to the level of morality only when we manage to be autonomous, only when our actions are governed, not by contingencies, but by self-given law. To be autonomous, Kant says, is “to be independent of determination by causes in the sensible world.”

What I want to single out in this brief exegesis is that Kant is quite clearly employing the Taste Model for many prudential values (for happiness), but uses something like the Perception Model for moral values2. He stresses how varied persons’ conceptions of happiness are indeed so varied that is hard to see how to avoid another person’s compelling me to be happy on his conception of welfare.

Confining the Taste Model to prudential values is widespread in contemporary philosophy. Rawls is strikingly like Kant in this respect. Rawls treats our goals and aims as a matter of our psychology –in the end, the desires we come to have. When he talks about how a rational person chooses ends, this is the language he uses: A person’s “rational plan” is the one he would be satisfied, if he reflected properly, “would best realize his more fundamental desires.” Rawls concern, it is true, is with a person’s rational, not actual, desires, and there are important questions, to which I shall soon return, about how strong a requirement “rational” has to be and about when it becomes too strong to be kept within the confines of the Taste Model. But Rawls seems not to leave those confines; he speaks of “deliberative rationality” in terms of a person’s learning “the general features of his wants and ends both present and future” and “what the person really wants,” and of forms of “criticizing our ends which may often help us to estimate the relative intensity of our desires.” In sum, our prudential values express out contingent appetitive nature; our moral values, on the other hand, express our nature as autonomous persons.

Rawls’ views seem to me typical of current thought: reject the Taste Model for moral values but retain it for prudential values. The Humean tradition is still vigorous. But I doubt that the Taste Model explains prudential values either.

1[…] The following two passages represent what I take to be common (typical?) views in economics. “Our basic theory assumes that, for all the alternative consumption bundles he could conceivably face, the individuals ha a preference ordering. This reflects his tastes… from the opportunities available to him he does the best he can, best being defined according to his tastes”. (P.R.G. Layard and A. A. Walters, Micro-Economic Theory, New York, MacGraw-Hill, 1978, p. 124). “The utility of choice states that the choice in any given situation depends on the interaction of the externally given obstacles [i.e., income and prices] with the tastes of the individual… The utility theory asserts, more precisely, that the states can be represented by an ordering according to preference of all conceivable alternatives” (J.K. Arrow, “Utility and Expectation in Economic Behavior,” in Collected Papers of Kenneth Arrow, vol. 3, Oxford

2I am perhaps stretching the Perception Model in including Kant. “Perception” suggests detection or recognition of the presence of (moral) properties, and Kant is not a moral realist. Morality, for him, is a rational requirement, and so objective in that sense, but not in the sense that there are moral “objects” existing independently of human thought and reaction. Still, “perception” can be taken without strain to include Kant: One perceives or recognizes a rational requirement.

wants :: learning by doing

wants

preference-based utilitarism?

rematei o artigo de John Broome -do que xa son fan“preference-based utilitarism?” que de xeito moi consecuente conclúe:

10. Conclusion
I conclude that preferencist utilitarianism fails. Preferencism cannot generate a concept of good solid enough to make sense of interpersonal comparisons of good. Interpersonal comparisons can only be achieved by means of a different, nonpreferencist theory of good.

Fleurbebaey, Salles and Weymark. 2008. páx 237.

E son fan tanto do artigo como do estilo:

But Harsanyi and others think they have a way of overcoming this problem.16 They claim that, once we understand the idea of extended preferences properly, we shall see that  everyone has the same extended preferences as everyone else. Extended preferences are universal. Consequently, there is a firm preferencist basis for making interpersonal comparisons of degrees of preference.
I am sure this is wrong. There is no reason why people should all have the same extended preferences, and many reasons why they should not. One reason why not is that people have different values. Their values will help to determine their preferences between different lives, so these preferences will differ. For instance, I value philosophy more highly than economics, so I prefer working as a philosopher and having the characteristics of a philosopher to working as an economist and having the characteristics of an economist. I imagine many economists might have the opposite preference. To be sure, when comparing my life with an economist’s, I must do it properly. In deciding whether I prefer the life and characteristics of an economist, I am supposed to take account of everything that goes with them, including having the values of an economist. I must recognize that if I had the characteristics of an economist, I would value the life of an economist. But it is my extended preferences we are talking about, not the economist’s extended preferences. As it happens, I prefer not to have the values of an economist. That is one reason I prefer not to be an economist.

Ibid, páx. 231