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Comments on Krister Bykvist ‘Prudence for Changing Selves’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2007

DENNIS MCKERLIE*
Affiliation:
University of Calgary

Extract

I very much enjoyed reading and thinking about Krister Bykvist's interesting and carefully written paper. My comments will not be criticisms. I will not challenge the conclusions the paper draws about the complicated examples of conflicts between preferences that it discusses. For example, I will not attempt to defend any of the views criticized in section IV of the paper. And I agree with the positive solution presented in section V, when that solution is characterized in the broadest possible way. In cases where a choice that I must make now will create one or the other of two possible future ‘selves’ whose preferences would conflict over the question of which choice I should make, prudence tells me to create the self that will experience a higher level of well-being or welfare.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

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References

1 Bykvist, Krister, ‘Prudence for changing selves’, Utilitas 18.3 (2006). The page references in the text and notes are to this article.

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2 I am thinking of the discussion of the Dominance view on p. 279. In the example both possible future selves have a comparative preference for being married over being unmarried, but the future married self would hate his actual life while the future unmarried self would love his actual life (although he would love being married even more). Krister takes it to be obvious that prudence tells the agent to remain unmarried. This might stem from a belief that comparative preferences have no weight at all when weighed against one-place desires in determining well-being.

3 This view might be called ‘Actualism’, but it is very different from the theory Krister discusses on pp. 272–5.

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