Published Online: 1 FEB 2013
Copyright © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.
The International Encyclopedia of Ethics
How to Cite
Weirich, P. 2013. Preference. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .
- Published Online: 1 FEB 2013
Preference is a mental state that compares two situations. To prefer one situation to another is to favor the first situation; one would rather be in the first situation. People prefer experiencing pleasure to experiencing pain. Common principles of value hold that, other things being equal, it is better for a person with a preference between two situations to be in the first situation than to be in the second situation. Common principles of morality therefore recommend meeting a person's preference, other things being equal. This essay reviews the components of a philosophical theory of preference, mentioning controversies within each component, and examines preference's place in normative principles. It explains the grounding rational preferences offer utilitarianism, and through cross-references indicates connections between points about preference and other topics in ethics.
- benefit-cost analysis;
- decision making;
- practical reason;