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Agency, freedom and choice

28 April 2011

PhD ceremony: Ms. C.B. Binder, 14.45 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Title: Agency, freedom and choice

Promotor(s): prof. M.V.B.P.M. van Hees

Faculty: Philosophy


In her dissertation Constanze Binder shows how social states can be compared in terms of freedom’s agency value, that is, the value freedom has because of it allowing a person to reflect upon her motives and shape her life in accordance with them. Sheargues that a number of prominent problems in the philosophical literature on freedom, such as the ‘happy slave problem’, arise due to a neglect of freedom’s agency value. This dissertation demonstrates that the formal freedom ranking literature, which aims to establish rankings of choice situations in terms of the amount of freedom they offer to a person, can also be employed to develop a ranking in terms of freedom’s agency value. For this purpose Binder shows how information about those differences between choice options that matter to people can be revealed and incorporated in freedom rankings. Moreover, it is shown that the assumption of a person being rational, or formally speaking that her preferences satisfy transitivity, is in tension with the idea of a person reflecting upon a plurality of (possibly conflicting) identities. Finally, the results obtained provide new insights in the evaluation of human well-being with the capability approach across different societies and cultures.


Last modified:15 September 2017 3.40 p.m.

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