IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

La rationalité du choix passionnel : En quête de l'héritage de David Hume


  • André Lapidus

    () (PHARE - Pôle d'Histoire de l'Analyse et des Représentations Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - UPN - Université Paris Nanterre - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


The question of choice, in Hume's works, lies within the more general framework of the theory of passions. These lead towards desire, aversion and volition, and require reason, as a cognitive faculty, in order to build the set of objects on which our preferences are defined, and to determine its properties. Governed by pleasure and pain, this device nonetheless allows discrepancies between the relation of pleasure and the relation of preference, as shown by the examples of indiscrimination and intertemporal choice. This discrepancy is explained by Hume's distinction between pleasure as a feeling and pleasure as an idea, the ' force and vividness' of which determines action. The question of choice in uncertainty is derived from the discussion of the ‘mixed' passions of hope and of fear. On first view, Hume's writings seem to give credit to their interpretation in terms of expected utility. Nonetheless, both the mental process, of which the judgement of probability is an outcome, and the dynamics of passions, invite us to reconsider this impression: the connection between Hume's approach and expected utility is justified only to the extent that it lays down a norm, face to which possible variations are explained by the imaginative and passionate processes which gave them birth.

Suggested Citation

  • André Lapidus, 2000. "La rationalité du choix passionnel : En quête de l'héritage de David Hume," Post-Print hal-00343939, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00343939
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server:

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shafer, Glenn, 1996. "The significance of Jacob Bernoulli's Ars Conjectandi for the philosophy of probability today," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 15-32, November.
    2. Machina, Mark J, 1982. ""Expected Utility" Analysis without the Independence Axiom," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 277-323, March.
    3. David Andrews, 1999. "Continuity and change in Keynes's thought: the importance of Hume," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 1-21.
    4. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    5. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 251-278, October.
    6. Levy-Garboua, L., 1999. "Expected Utility and Cognitive Consistency," Papiers d'Economie Mathématique et Applications 1999.104, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
    7. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
    8. Hampton, Jean, 1994. "The Failure of Expected-Utility Theory as a Theory of Reason," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(02), pages 195-242, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Arnaud Orain, 2003. "Decline and progress: the economic agent in Condillac's theory of history," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 379-407.
    2. Laurie Bréban, 2017. "An Investigation into the Smithian System of Sympathy: from Cognition to Emotion," Working Papers hal-01467340, HAL.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00343939. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (CCSD). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.