Over the past decade a large literature has grown up on the question of ‘choice’ – a concept with a long philosophical history, yet which today provokes an unprecedentedly negative response.
‘Choice’ is now discussed largely in terms of its problematic character. There are books about the ‘myth’ of choice (we don’t actually have as many choices as we think we do); the ‘flawed’ nature of choice (we do not make rational decisions); or the ‘tyranny’ or anxiety-provoking nature of choice (we don’t actually want choices anyway).
As a development out of this literature, new schools of policy justify the state supervision of individual decisions, such as ‘Nudge’ or ‘behaviour change’ initiatives. A range of policies now seek to encourage individuals to make the ‘right choices’ in areas of life ranging from health, savings to the environment.
This talk by Josie Appletonwill look at this anti-choice literature in the context of past philosophical thinking on the subject, beginning in classical Athens, where there was for the first time the notion of actions resulting from a conscious decision between alternative courses of conduct. The talk will ask whether the value of choice is intrinsic, rather than related to beneficial outcomes for the individual or society: indeed, historically the exercise of choice has often been associated with great suffering, yet was defended nonetheless.
The talk will suggest that we need a new philosophy of choice, which affirms rather than undermines moments of subjectivity and decision-making in people’s everyday lives.
Cost: £5 **
**Please RSVP ahead of time by using PayPal (accepts cards without an account). Ticket costs will cover the room rent. Unfortunately LPC event organisers have lost money a few times in a row so we are trying a small PayPal ticket per person to avoid this.
Josie Appleton is director of the Manifesto Club (http://www.manifestoclub.com/about) civil liberties group, and author of reports on subjects such as on-the-spot fines and the regulation of public spaces. As a writer and essayist she has written for publications including the Spectator, Guardian and spiked-online, on freedom issues ranging from burqa bans to the history of the common law. She has given lectures on the history and philosophy of freedom in fora such as the Institute of Ideas' Academy, Libertarian International and the 6-20 Salon. Her blog is at notesonfreedom.com (http://notesonfreedom.com/)