Confronting the Sirens: Rational Behavior in the Face of Changing Preferences
"Men more easily renounce their interests than their tastes." (Rochefoucauld) Consistency and constancy are hallmarks of Odysseus' behavior with respect to the Sirens. The usual reading is that he is a general model of the way all self-control situations should be handled. The alternative interpretation is that Odysseus may have made the wrong decision and should not have been bound. These competing explanations are linked to dissociations among decision, experienced and predicted utilities, between autonomy and commitment and between sophistication and naivete. These dissociations, in turn, are critical to a full understanding of the attraction of wealth, alcoholism and drug addiction, sympathy and charity, and living wills and end-of-life care.
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Volume (Year): 156 (2000)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
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