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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 41, Issue 4, October 2015

Preference, Choice, and (Libertarian) Paternalism

Kalle Grill
Pages 692-715
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract201541437

Respect for What?
Choices, Actual Preferences, and True Preferences

As liberals, we would like each person to direct her own life in accordance with her will. However, because of the complexities of the human mind, it is very often not clear what a person wills. She may choose one thing though she prefers another, while having false beliefs the correction of which would cause her to prefer some third thing. I propose, against this background, that to respect a person’s will or self-direction is to respect both her choices and her preferences, with some priority given to those preferences that are informed and coherent. This is a pluralist answer to the neglected question, “respect for what?”

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