Economics and Philosophy

Articles

A STRAWSON–LEWIS DEFENCE OF SOCIAL PREFERENCES

Jelle de Boer

University of Amsterdam and Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands j.s.deboer2@uva.nl

Abstract

This paper examines a special kind of social preference, namely a preference to do one's part in a mixed-motive setting because the other party expects one to do so. I understand this expectation-based preference as a basic reactive attitude (Strawson 1974). Given this, and the fact that expectations in these circumstances are likely to be based on other people's preferences, I argue that in cooperation a special kind of equilibrium ensues, which I call a loop, with people's preferences and expectations mutually cross-referring. As with a Lewis-norm, the loop can get started in a variety of ways. It is self-sustaining in the sense that people with social preferences have sufficient reason not to deviate.

Jelle de Boer is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, Ethics Department. He is also a lecturer in philosophy of science at Delft University of Technology.