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Decision and Time from a Humean Point of View

Abstract : Until recently, little attention has been paid to the consequences of Hume's theory of action upon intertemporal decision. Nonetheless, some of their specicities have been emphasized by G. Davis 2003, A. Lapidus 2000, 2010, and I. Palacios-Huerta 2003. Through recurring discussions, concerning situations of conicting choice between a close and a remote objective, which run from the Treatise, Book 2 (Hume 1739-40), to the second Enquiry (Hume 1751) to the Dissertation (Hume 1757), intertemporal decision appears, at least for a part of it, as an outcome of the role of the natural relation of contiguity in the formation of a structure of desires, dierent from the structure of pleasure. This paper shows, and expresses formally, that Hume's approach provides alternative conditions explaining on the one hand time-consistency and, on the other hand, time-inconsistency when the link between contiguity and the violence of the passions is taken into account. The possibility of time-inconsistency is acknowledged by Hume as giving rise to general aversion, therefore constituting a key argument for explaining the origin of government.
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Marc-Arthur Diaye, André Lapidus. Decision and Time from a Humean Point of View. European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2019, 26 (3), pp.622-652. ⟨10.1080/09672567.2019.1623280⟩. ⟨hal-01372527v4⟩

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