Disasters and DilemmasStrategies for Real-Life Decision Making
The author presents a number of strategies for making decisions based on desires or values which are incompatible or which conflict with one another in various ways. Cases discussed include conflicts of first and second order desires, conflicts between desires for present and for future ends, problems deriving from anticipated changes of desire, risk-taking problems, and coordination problems. One central claim of the book is that the same dilemma-managing strategies can be applied to all of these. The book also argues that many of the characteristics of moral dilemmas appear in non-moral decision-making. The relations between these strategies and utility-maximizing decision rules are subtle, and are explored throughout the book. To some extent the strategies apply to cases which are too complicated for utility-maximization to apply. Some of them also apply to the early stages of decision-making where utility-maximization does not enter, for example, in selecting a list of options for serious consideration. In some tidy cases, though, the strategies give different recommendations. This book is meant to have both a theoretical and a practical appeal, deriving from our need for ways of making decisions that do not force us to find trade-offs between goods or values which are hard to compare. The strategies presented in the book are meant to be usable in situations which seem to force decision-makers to balance very different quantities, and the discussion of them is meant as a contribution to debates about incomparable values, moral dilemmas and rational decision.