XAT 2012 Question 12

Instructions

Read the following passage and provide appropriate answers for the questions

There is an essential and irreducible ‘duality’ in the normative conceptualization of an individual person. We can see the person in terms of his or her ‘agency’, recognizing and respecting his or her ability to form goals, commitments, values, etc., and we can also see the person in terms of his or her ‘well-being’. This dichotomy is lost in a model of exclusively self- interested motivation, in which a person’s agency must be entirely geared to his or her own well-being. But once that straitjacket of self-interested motivation is removed, it becomes possible to recognize the indisputable fact that the person’s agency can well be geared to considerations not covered - or at least not fully covered - by his or her own well-being. Agency may be seen as important (not just instrumentally for the pursuit of well-being, but also intrinsically), but that still leaves open the question as to how that agency is to be evaluated and appraised. Even though the use of one’s agency is a matter for oneself to judge, the need for careful assessment of aims, objective, allegiances, etc., and the conception of the good, may be important and exacting. To recognize the distinction between the ‘agency aspect’ and the ‘well-being aspect’ of a person does not require us to take the view that the person’s success as an agent must be independent, or completely separable from, his or her success in terms of well-being. A person may well feel happier and better off as a result of achieving what he or she wanted to achieve - perhaps for his or her family, or community, or class, or party, or some other cause. Also it is quite possible that a person’s well-being will go down as a result of frustration if there is some failure to achieve what he or she wanted to achieve as an agent, even though those achievements are not directly concerned with his or her well-being. There is really no sound basis for demanding that the agency aspect and the well-being aspect of a person should be independent of each other, and it is, I suppose, even possible that every change in one will affect the other as well. However, the point at issue is not the plausibility of their independence, but the sustainability and relevance of the distinction. The fact that two variables may be so related that one cannot change without the other, does not imply that they are the same variable, or that they will have the same values, or that the value of one can be obtained from the other on basis of some simple transformation. The importance of an agency achievement does not rest entirely on the enhancement of well-being that it may indirectly cause. The agency achievement and well-being achievement, both of which have some distinct importance, may be casually linked with each other, but this fact does not compromise the specific importance of either. In so far as utility - based welfare calculations concentrate only on the well- being of the person, ignoring the agency aspect, or actually fails to distinguish between the agency aspect and well-being aspect altogether, something of real importance is lost.

Question 12

The idea of agency, as used in the passage, is implied in all the options given below, except:

Solution

We have been explained sense of agency by these words:
"We can see the person in terms of his or her ‘agency’, recognizing and respecting his or her ability to form goals, commitments, values, etc." 
Option A,B,C,D can be seen as people being driven by their sense of agency. However, E is out of sync with the given sentence as an ascetic is someone who has renounced the world and thus, in terms of understanding of the sense of agency, he must hardly have any interest in world affairs. Hence, for him to be praying for world peace, he must be driven by something other than an immediate sense of agency. Hence, it is the answer. 



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