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On Whether to Prefer Pain to Pass

Tom Dougherty
Ethics
Vol. 121, No. 3 (April 2011), pp. 521-537
DOI: 10.1086/658896
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/658896
Page Count: 17
Subjects: Philosophy
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Abstract

Most of us are “time-biased” in preferring pains to be past rather than future and pleasures to be future rather than past. However, it turns out that if you are risk averse and time-biased, then you can be turned into a “pain pump”—in order to insure yourself against misfortune, you will take a series of pills which leaves you with more pain and better off in no respect. Since this vulnerability seems rationally impermissible, while time-bias and risk aversion seem rationally permissible, we are left with a puzzle.