Adaptive Preferences and Capabilities: Some Preliminary Conceptual Explorations
AbstractThe Capability Approach (CA) as developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, has in part been a response to the problem of adaptive preferences. Their argument says that people might adapt to certain unfavorable circumstances and any self-evaluation in terms of satisfaction or happiness will in this case necessarily be distorted. To evaluate people's well-being in terms of functionings and capabilities guarantees a more objective picture of people's life. Next to this strong criticism on subjective measurements of well-being, we observe an increasing interest in Subjective Well-Being (SWB) or Happiness studies that are included in the broader field of Hedonic Psychology. In this paper, we thus revise the original critique of adaptive preferences and compare it with a more detailed analysis of adaptation as it is presented in hedonic psychology. It becomes clear that adaptation can be a positive as well as a negative phenomenon and that the adaptive preference critique had a particular narrow view on adaptation. However, this does not mean SWB-research is not any longer susceptible to this critique. An alternative way to assess people's subjective well-being, but which could be considered to be more in line with the CA, is proposed by Daniel Kahneman's Objective Happiness. These are all relatively new considerations, especially in economics. Therefore much more research needs to be done on the positive and negative aspects of adaptation to understand its consequences on well-being - especially when evaluated within the capability-space.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Review of Social Economy.
Volume (Year): 63 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.tandfonline.com/RRSE20
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002.
"What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?,"
Journal of Economic Literature,
American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
- Gasper, Des, 2007. "What is the capability approach?: Its core, rationale, partners and dangers," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 335-359, June.
- David Alexander Clark, 2011. "Adaptation and development: issues, evidence and policy relevance," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 15911, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
- David A. Clark, 2007. "Adaptation, Poverty and Well-Being: Some Issues and Observations with Special Reference to the Capability Approach and Development Studies," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-081, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
- Gries, Thomas & Naudé, Wim, 2011.
"Entrepreneurship and human development: A capability approach,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 95(3), pages 216-224.
- Gries, Thomas & Naudé, Wim, 2011. "Entrepreneurship and human development: A capability approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(3-4), pages 216-224, April.
- Gries,Thomas & Naudé, Wim, 2010. "Entrepreneurship and Human Development: A Capability Approach," Working Paper Series wp2010-68, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
- Tania Burchardt & Polly Vizard, 2007. "Definition of equality and framework for measurement: Final Recommendations of the Equalities Review Steering Group on Measurement," CASE Papers /120, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
- Nicolai Suppa, 2012. "Does Capability Deprivation Hurt? – Evidence from German Panel Data," Ruhr Economic Papers 0359, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael McNulty).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.