Pleasure and belief in Hume's decision process
The purpose of this paper is to introduce explicitly pleasure and belief in what aims at being a Humean theory of decision, like the one developed in Diaye and Lapidus (2005a). Although we support the idea that Hume was in some way a hedonist – evidently different from Bentham's or Jevons' way – we lay emphasis less on continuity than on the specific kind of hedonism encountered in Hume's writings (chiefly the Treatise, the second Enquiry, the Dissertation, or some of his Essays). Such hedonism clearly contrasts to its standard modern inheritance, expressed by the relation between preferences and utility. The reason for such a difference with the usual approach lies in the mental process that Hume puts to the fore in order to explain the way pleasure determines desires and volition. Whereas pleasure is primarily, in Hume's words, an impression of sensation, it takes place in the birth of passions as reflecting an idea of pleasure, whose “force and vivacity” is precisely a “belief”, transferred to the direct passions of desire or volition that come immediately before action. As a result, from a Humean point of view, “belief” deals with decision under risk or uncertainty, as well with intertemporal decision and indiscrimination problems. The latter are explored within a formal framework, and it is shown that the relation of pleasure is transformed by belief into a non-empty class of relations of desire, among which at least one is a preorder.
|Date of creation:||Jun 2012|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||Published in European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2012, 19 (3), pp.355-384. <10.1080/09672567.2010.540339>|
|Note:||View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal-paris1.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00483263|
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- 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.
- Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2001. "Time Inconsistent Preferences in Adam Smith and David Hume," Working Papers 2001-19, Brown University, Department of Economics.
- André Lapidus, 2010.
"The Valuation of Decision and Individual Welfare: A Humean Approach,"
- Andre Lapidus, 2010. "The valuation of decision and individual welfare: a Humean approach," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(1), pages 1-28.
- Marc-Arthur Diaye & André Lapidus, 2005.
"A Humean Theory of Choice of which Rationality May Be One Consequence,"
- 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.
- 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.
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