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Expected Utility and Constrained Maximization: Problems of Compatibility

Hans Lottenbach
Erkenntnis (1975-)
Vol. 41, No. 1 (Jul., 1994), pp. 37-48
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20012562
Page Count: 12
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Expected Utility and Constrained Maximization: Problems of Compatibility
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Abstract

In recent attempts at deriving morality from rationality expected utility theory has played a major role. In the most prominent such attempt, Gauthier's Morals by Agreement, a mode of maximizing utility called constrained maximization is defended. I want to show that constrained maximization or any similar proposal cannot be coherently supported by expected utility theory. First, I point to an important implication of that theory. Second, I discuss the question of what the place of constrained maximization in utility theory might be. Third, I argue that no matter how we answer this question, expected utility theory cannot provide the reason why a moral disposition like constrained maximization is to be preferred to its rivals.

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