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Beyond BiofatalismHuman Nature for an Evolving World$
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Gillian Barker

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231171885

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231171885.001.0001

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Choosing Environments

Choosing Environments

Chapter:
(p.97) [ 7 ] Choosing Environments
Source:
Beyond Biofatalism
Author(s):

Gillian Barker

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231171885.003.0007

Using utilitarian or cost-benefit thinking to assess possible large-scale social chagnes is problematic because it is unclear how to value the costs and benefits--in particular, because some social changes will affect the ways people assign value to their life circumstances. This problem is related to what Sen and Nussbaum call "adaptive preferences," but considering this issue in light of biologists' understanding of phenotypic plasticity suggests that the problem goes further than philosophers had recognized, since differing developmental environments may have permanent effects on people's capacities and preferences.

Keywords:   Social costs, adaptive preference, life-cycle strategies, developmental plasticity, risky behaviors, capacities approach

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