IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

The Valuation of Decision and Individual Welfare: A Humean Approach

Listed author(s):
  • André Lapidus


    (PHARE - Pôle d'Histoire de l'Analyse et des Représentations Economiques - CNRS - UP10 - Université Paris 10, Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne)

Drawing on passages in Book II of the Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40), in the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751), in the Dissertation on the Passions (1757), and in some of the Essays (1777), this paper is built upon Hume's distinction between three alternative valuations of an individual position: desire (which leads to action), interest, and happiness. The difficulty comes from the fact that desire does not depend on pleasure as an impression, but on the force of an idea of pleasure, based upon a belief in the realisation of the correlative impression. Typically, this belief is linked to the underlying emotional state, expressed in the degree of violence of the passions, which governs both the individual's reactivity to pleasure, and his preference for present (compared to future) pleasures. On the contrary, interest and happiness do not depend on the distortion introduced by beliefs, and are directly linked to pleasure. It is shown that the decisional valuation only coincides with interest in the case of what Hume called a “calm passion”, which gives birth to the greatest happiness.

If 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.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number hal-00344868.

in new window

Date of creation: 2010
Publication status: Published in European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2010, 17 (1), pp.1-28
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00344868
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server:
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

in new window

  1. Marc-Arthur Diaye & Andre Lapidus, 2005. "A Humean theory of choice of which rationality may be one consequence," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 89-111.
  2. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2003. "Time-Inconsistent Preferences in Adam Smith and David Hume," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 241-268, Summer.
  3. Robert Sugden, 2005. "Why rationality is not a consequence of Hume's theory of choice," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 113-118.
  4. Gordon F. Davis, 2003. "Philosophical Psychology and Economic Psychology in David Hume and Adam Smith," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 269-304, Summer.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00344868. 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)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.