Craig Callender [2022] provides a novel challenge to the non-arbitrariness principle. His challenge plays an important role in his argument for the rational permissibility of a non-exponential temporal discounting rate. But the challenge is also of wider interest: it raises significant questions about whether we ought to accept the non-arbitrariness principle as a constraint on rational preferences. In this paper, I present two reasons to resist Callender’s challenge. First, I present a reason to reject his claim that the non-arbitrariness principle only targets pure time preferences. Second, I criticize the inference Callender draws from a modest claim to a much stronger claim. The modest claim is that it can be hard to reveal the contents of an agent’s preferences. The stronger claim is that this provides us with a reason to reject a certain kind of normative constraint on rational preferences. I argue that the modest claim doesn’t motivate the stronger claim. The upshot of my two arguments is good news for those sympathetic to the non-arbitrariness principle: Callender’s challenge can be overcome, at least as it currently stands.


Decision theory, Rationality, Time bias, Temporal discounting, Craig Callender

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