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  1. The Rational Group.Franz Dietrich - manuscript
    Can a group be a standard rational agent? This would require the group to hold aggregate preferences which maximise expected utility and change only by Bayesian updating. Group rationality is possible, but the only preference aggregation rules which support it (and are minimally Paretian and continuous) are the linear-geometric rules, which combine individual tastes linearly and individual beliefs geometrically.
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  2. Expected Value Under Normative Uncertainty.Franz Dietrich - manuscript
    Maximising expected value is the classic doctrine in choice theory under empirical uncertainty, and a prominent proposal in the emerging philosophical literature on normative uncertainty, i.e., uncertainty about the standard of evaluation. But how should Expectationalism be stated in general, when we can face both uncertainties simultaneously, as is common in life? Surprisingly, different possibilities arise, ranging from Ex-Ante to Ex-Post Expectationalism, with several hybrid versions. The difference lies in the perspective from which expectations are taken, or equivalently the amount (...)
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  3. Expected utility theory, Jeffrey’s decision theory, and the paradoxes.Philippe Mongin & Jean Baccelli - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    In Richard Bradley's book, Decision Theory with a Human Face (2017), we have selected two themes for discussion. The first is the Bolker-Jeffrey (BJ) theory of decision, which the book uses throughout as a tool to reorganize the whole field of decision theory, and in particular to evaluate the extent to which expected utility (EU) theories may be normatively too demanding. The second theme is the redefinition strategy that can be used to defend EU theories against the Allais and Ellsberg (...)
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  4. Structuring Decisions Under Deep Uncertainty.Casey Helgeson - 2020 - Topoi 39 (2):257-269.
    Innovative research on decision making under ‘deep uncertainty’ is underway in applied fields such as engineering and operational research, largely outside the view of normative theorists grounded in decision theory. Applied methods and tools for decision support under deep uncertainty go beyond standard decision theory in the attention that they give to the structuring of decisions. Decision structuring is an important part of a broader philosophy of managing uncertainty in decision making, and normative decision theorists can both learn from, and (...)
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  5. Epistemic Decision Theory's Reckoning.Conor Mayo-Wilson & Gregory Wheeler - manuscript
    Epistemic decision theory (EDT) employs the mathematical tools of rational choice theory to justify epistemic norms, including probabilism, conditionalization, and the Principal Principle, among others. Practitioners of EDT endorse two theses: (1) epistemic value is distinct from subjective preference, and (2) belief and epistemic value can be numerically quantified. We argue the first thesis, which we call epistemic puritanism, undermines the second.
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  6. Risk Aversion and the Long Run.Johanna Thoma - 2018 - Ethics 129 (2):230-253.
    This article argues that Lara Buchak’s risk-weighted expected utility theory fails to offer a true alternative to expected utility theory. Under commonly held assumptions about dynamic choice and the framing of decision problems, rational agents are guided by their attitudes to temporally extended courses of action. If so, REU theory makes approximately the same recommendations as expected utility theory. Being more permissive about dynamic choice or framing, however, undermines the theory’s claim to capturing a steady choice disposition in the face (...)
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  7. Instrumental Rationality Without Separability.Johanna Thoma - 2018 - Erkenntnis:1-22.
    This paper argues that instrumental rationality is more permissive than expected utility theory. The most compelling instrumentalist argument in favour of separability, its core requirement, is that agents with non-separable preferences end up badly off by their own lights in some dynamic choice problems. I argue that once we focus on the question of whether agents' attitudes to uncertain prospects help define their ends in their own right, or instead only assign instrumental value in virtue of the outcomes they may (...)
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  8. Advice for the Steady: Decision Theory and the Requirements of Instrumental Rationality.Johanna Thoma - 2017 - Dissertation,
    Standard decision theory, or rational choice theory, is often interpreted to be a theory of instrumental rationality. This dissertation argues, however, that the core requirements of orthodox decision theory cannot be defended as general requirements of instrumental rationality. Instead, I argue that these requirements can only be instrumentally justified to agents who have a desire to have choice dispositions that are stable over time and across different choice contexts. Past attempts at making instrumentalist arguments for the core requirements of decision (...)
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  9. Simon, Stigler et les théories de la rationalité limitée.P. Mongin - 1986 - Social Science Information 25 (3):555-606.
    This article reviews Herbert Simon's theory of bounded rationality, with a view of deemphasizing his "satisficing" model, and by contrast, of emphasizing his distinction between "procedural" and "substantive" rationality. The article also discusses a possible move from neo-classical economists to respond to Simon's criticisms, i.e., a reduction of bounded rationality to a special case of second-optimization, using Stigler's search theory. This move is eventually dismissed.
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  10. Belief Revision Generalized: A Joint Characterization of Bayes's and Jeffrey's Rules.Franz Dietrich, Christian List & Richard Bradley - 2016 - Journal of Economic Theory 162:352-371.
    We present a general framework for representing belief-revision rules and use it to characterize Bayes's rule as a classical example and Jeffrey's rule as a non-classical one. In Jeffrey's rule, the input to a belief revision is not simply the information that some event has occurred, as in Bayes's rule, but a new assignment of probabilities to some events. Despite their differences, Bayes's and Jeffrey's rules can be characterized in terms of the same axioms: "responsiveness", which requires that revised beliefs (...)
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  11. How to Rationally Approach Life's Transformative Experiences.Marcus Arvan - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (8):1199-1218.
    In a widely discussed forthcoming article, “What you can't expect when you're expecting,” L. A. Paul challenges culturally and philosophically traditional views about how to rationally make major life-decisions, most specifically the decision of whether to have children. The present paper argues that because major life-decisions are transformative, the only rational way to approach them is to become resilient people: people who do not “over-plan” their lives or expect their lives to play out “according to plan”—people who understand that beyond (...)
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  12. Reason-Based Choice and Context-Dependence: An Explanatory Framework.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2016 - Economics and Philosophy 32 (2):175-229.
    We introduce a “reason-based” framework for explaining and predicting individual choices. It captures the idea that a decision-maker focuses on some but not all properties of the options and chooses an option whose motivationally salient properties he/she most prefers. Reason-based explanations allow us to distinguish between two kinds of context-dependent choice: the motivationally salient properties may (i) vary across choice contexts, and (ii) include not only “intrinsic” properties of the options, but also “context-related” properties. Our framework can accommodate boundedly rational (...)
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  13. Mark Kaplan, Decision Theory as Philosophy.A. Morton - 1999 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (3):505-507.
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  14. The Paradox of the Bayesian Experts.Philippe Mongin - 2001 - In David Corfield & Jon Williamson (eds.), Foundations of Bayesianism. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 309-338.
    This paper (first published under the same title in Journal of Mathematical Economics, 29, 1998, p. 331-361) is a sequel to "Consistent Bayesian Aggregation", Journal of Economic Theory, 66, 1995, p. 313-351, by the same author. Both papers examine mathematically whether the the following assumptions are compatible: the individuals and the group both form their preferences according to Subjective Expected Utility (SEU) theory, and the preferences of the group satisfy the Pareto principle with respect to those of the individuals. While (...)
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  15. Decision Theory, Symmetry and Causal Structure: Reply to Meacham and Weisberg.Michael Clark & Nicholas Shackel - 2003 - Mind 112 (448):691-701.
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  16. Modelling Change in Individual Characteristics: An Axiomatic Framework.Franz Dietrich - 2012 - Games and Economic Behavior 76:471-94.
    Economic models describe individuals in terms of underlying characteristics, such as taste for some good, sympathy level for another player, time discount rate, risk attitude, and so on. In real life, such characteristics change through experiences: taste for Mozart changes through listening to it, sympathy for another player through observing his moves, and so on. Models typically ignore change, not just for simplicity but also because it is unclear how to incorporate change. I introduce a general axiomatic framework for defining, (...)
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Causal Decision Theory
  1. Frustration and Delay.Arif Ahmed - manuscript
    Abstract. The paper describes a situation in which Causal Decision Theory (CDT) advises the agent to decline a free offer of $1,000, with the foreseeable result that the agent is $1,000 poorer than if she had taken the offer. I take this absurd consequence of CDT to constitute a refutation of it.
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  2. The Termination Risks of Simulation Science.Preston Greene - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (2):489-509.
    Historically, the hypothesis that our world is a computer simulation has struck many as just another improbable-but-possible “skeptical hypothesis” about the nature of reality. Recently, however, the simulation hypothesis has received significant attention from philosophers, physicists, and the popular press. This is due to the discovery of an epistemic dependency: If we believe that our civilization will one day run many simulations concerning its ancestry, then we should believe that we are probably in an ancestor simulation right now. This essay (...)
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  3. The Causal Decision Theorist's Guide to Managing the News.J. Dmitri Gallow - 2020 - Journal of Philosophy 117 (3):117-149.
    According to orthodox causal decision theory, performing an action can give you information about factors outside of your control, but you should not take this information into account when deciding what to do. Causal decision theorists caution against an irrational policy of 'managing the news'. But, by providing information about factors outside of your control, performing an act can give you two, importantly different, kinds of good news. It can tell you that the world in which you find yourself is (...)
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  4. Evidence and Rationalization.Ian Wells - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):845-864.
    Suppose that you have to take a test tomorrow but you do not want to study. Unfortunately you should study, since you care about passing and you expect to pass only if you study. Is there anything you can do to make it the case that you should not study? Is there any way for you to ‘rationalize’ slacking off? I suggest that such rationalization is impossible. Then I show that if evidential decision theory is true, rationalization is not only (...)
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  5. Review of Arif Ahmed (Ed.), Newcomb's Problem. [REVIEW]Jack Spencer - 2019 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2019.
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  6. Newcomb’s Problem, Arif Ahmed (Editor). Cambridge University Press, 2018, 233 Pages. [REVIEW]J. Dmitri Gallow - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy.
    Newcomb’s Problem, Arif Ahmed (editor). Cambridge University Press, 2018, 233 pages.
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  7. Equal Opportunity and Newcomb’s Problem.Ian Wells - 2019 - Mind 128 (510):429-457.
    The 'Why ain'cha rich?' argument for one-boxing in Newcomb's problem allegedly vindicates evidential decision theory and undermines causal decision theory. But there is a good response to the argument on behalf of causal decision theory. I develop this response. Then I pose a new problem and use it to give a new 'Why ain'cha rich?' argument. Unlike the old argument, the new argument targets evidential decision theory. And unlike the old argument, the new argument is sound.
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  8. Causal Decision Theory and Decision Instability.Brad Armendt - 2019 - Journal of Philosophy 116 (5):263-277.
    The problem of the man who met death in Damascus appeared in the infancy of the theory of rational choice known as causal decision theory. A straightforward, unadorned version of causal decision theory is presented here and applied, along with Brian Skyrms’ deliberation dynamics, to Death in Damascus and similar problems. Decision instability is a fascinating topic, but not a source of difficulty for causal decision theory. Andy Egan’s purported counterexample to causal decision theory, Murder Lesion, is considered; a simple (...)
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  9. Success-First Decision Theories.Preston Greene - 2018 - In Arif Ahmed (ed.), Newcomb's Problem. Cambridge University Press. pp. 115–137.
    The standard formulation of Newcomb's problem compares evidential and causal conceptions of expected utility, with those maximizing evidential expected utility tending to end up far richer. Thus, in a world in which agents face Newcomb problems, the evidential decision theorist might ask the causal decision theorist: "if you're so smart, why ain’cha rich?” Ultimately, however, the expected riches of evidential decision theorists in Newcomb problems do not vindicate their theory, because their success does not generalize. Consider a theory that allows (...)
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  10. Sequential Choice and the Agent's Perspective.Arif Ahmed - manuscript
    Causal Decision Theory reckons the choice-worthiness of an option to be completely independent of its evidential bearing on its non-effects. But after one has made a choice this bearing is relevant to future decisions. Therefore it is possible to construct problems of sequential choice in which Causal Decision Theory makes a guaranteed loss. So Causal Decision Theory is wrong. The source of the problem is the idea that agents have a special perspective on their own contemplated actions, from which evidential (...)
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  11. "Click!" Bait for Causalists.Huw Price & Yang Liu - 2018 - In Arif Ahmed (ed.), Newcomb's Problem. Cambridge ; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. pp. 160-179.
    Causalists and Evidentialists can agree about the right course of action in an (apparent) Newcomb problem, if the causal facts are not as initially they seem. If declining $1,000 causes the Predictor to have placed $1m in the opaque box, CDT agrees with EDT that one-boxing is rational. This creates a difficulty for Causalists. We explain the problem with reference to Dummett's work on backward causation and Lewis's on chance and crystal balls. We show that the possibility that the causal (...)
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  12. Evil and God's Toxin Puzzle.John Pittard - 2016 - Noûs 50 (2):88-108.
    I show that Kavka's toxin puzzle raises a problem for the “Responsibility Theodicy,” which holds that the reason God typically does not intervene to stop the evil effects of our actions is that such intervention would undermine the possibility of our being significantly responsible for overcoming and averting evil. This prominent theodicy seems to require that God be able to do what the agent in Kavka's toxin story cannot do: stick by a plan to do some action at a future (...)
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  13. A New Problem with Mixed Decisions, Or: You’Ll Regret Reading This Article, But You Still Should.Benjamin Plommer - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (2):349-373.
    Andy Egan recently drew attention to a class of decision situations that provide a certain kind of informational feedback, which he claims constitute a counterexample to causal decision theory. Arntzenius and Wallace have sought to vindicate a form of CDT by describing a dynamic process of deliberation that culminates in a “mixed” decision. I show that, for many of the cases in question, this proposal depends on an incorrect way of calculating expected utilities, and argue that it is therefore unsuccessful. (...)
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  14. Egan and Agents: How Evidential Decision Theory Can Deal with Egan’s Dilemma.Daniel Dohrn - 2015 - Synthese 192 (6):1883-1908.
    Andy Egan has presented a dilemma for decision theory. As is well known, Newcomb cases appear to undermine the case for evidential decision theory. However, Egan has come up with a new scenario which poses difficulties for causal decision theory. I offer a simple solution to this dilemma in terms of a modified EDT. I propose an epistemological test: take some feature which is relevant to your evaluation of the scenarios under consideration, evidentially correlated with the actions under consideration albeit, (...)
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  15. Causal Decision Theory and EPR Correlations.Arif Ahmed & Adam Caulton - 2014 - Synthese 191 (18):4315-4352.
    The paper argues that on three out of eight possible hypotheses about the EPR experiment we can construct novel and realistic decision problems on which (a) Causal Decision Theory and Evidential Decision Theory conflict (b) Causal Decision Theory and the EPR statistics conflict. We infer that anyone who fully accepts any of these three hypotheses has strong reasons to reject Causal Decision Theory. Finally, we extend the original construction to show that anyone who gives any of the three hypotheses any (...)
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  16. Against Counterfactual Miracles.Cian Dorr - 2016 - Philosophical Review 125 (2):241-286.
    This paper considers how counterfactuals should be evaluated on the assumption that determinism is true. I argue against Lewis's influential view that the actual laws of nature would have been false if something had happened that never actually happened, and in favour of the competing view that history would have been different all the way back. I argue that we can do adequate justice to our ordinary practice of relying on a wide range of historical truths in evaluating counterfactuals by (...)
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  17. Overdetermination in Intuitive Causal Decision Theory.Esteban Céspedes - 2013 - In Miguel Hoeltje, Thomas Spitzley & Wolfgang Spohn (eds.), Was dürfen wir glauben? Was sollen wir tun? Sektionsbeiträge des achten internationalen Kongresses der Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie e.V.
    Causal decision theory defines a rational action as the one that tends to cause the best outcomes. If we adopt counterfactual or probabilistic theories of causation, then we may face problems in overdetermination cases. Do such problems affect Causal decision theory? The aim of this work is to show that the concept of causation that has been fundamental in all versions of causal decision theory is not the most intuitive one. Since overdetermination poses problems for a counterfactual theory of causation, (...)
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  18. Causal Decision Theory: A Counterexample.Arif Ahmed - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (2):289-306.
    The essay presents a novel counterexample to Causal Decision Theory (CDT). Its interest is that it generates a case in which CDT violates the very principles that motivated it in the first place. The essay argues that the objection applies to all extant formulations of CDT and that the only way out for that theory is a modification of it that entails incompatibilism. The essay invites the reader to find this consequence of CDT a reason to reject it.
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  19. Conditionals in Causal Decision Theory.John Cantwell - 2013 - Synthese 190 (4):661-679.
    This paper explores the possibility that causal decision theory can be formulated in terms of probabilities of conditionals. It is argued that a generalized Stalnaker semantics in combination with an underlying branching time structure not only provides the basis for a plausible account of the semantics of indicative conditionals, but also that the resulting conditionals have properties that make them well-suited as a basis for formulating causal decision theory. Decision theory (at least if we omit the frills) is not an (...)
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  20. DeRose on the Conditionals of Deliberation.Daniel Dohrn - manuscript
    I take issue with two claims of DeRose: Conditionals of deliberation must not depend on backtracking grounds. ‘Were’ed-up conditionals coincide with future-directed indicative conditionals; the only difference in their meaning is that they must not depend on backtracking grounds. I use Egan’s counterexamples to causal decision theory to contest the first and an example of backtracking reasoning by David Lewis to contest the second claim. I tentatively outline a rivaling account of ‘were’ed-up conditionals which combines features of the standard analysis (...)
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  21. Smokers and Psychos: Egan Cases Don't Work.Arif Ahmed - manuscript
    Andy Egan's Smoking Lesion and Psycho Button cases are supposed to be counterexamples to Causal Decision Theory. This paper argues that they are not: more precisely, it argues that if CDT makes the right call in Newcomb's problem then it makes the right call in Egan cases too.
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  22. Arntzenius on ‘Why Ain’Cha Rich?’.Arif Ahmed & Huw Price - 2012 - Erkenntnis 77 (1):15-30.
    The best-known argument for Evidential Decision Theory (EDT) is the ‘Why ain’cha rich?’ challenge to rival Causal Decision Theory (CDT). The basis for this challenge is that in Newcomb-like situations, acts that conform to EDT may be known in advance to have the better return than acts that conform to CDT. Frank Arntzenius has recently proposed an ingenious counter argument, based on an example in which, he claims, it is predictable in advance that acts that conform to EDT will do (...)
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  23. Binding and its Consequences.Christopher J. G. Meacham - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 149 (1):49-71.
    In “Bayesianism, Infinite Decisions, and Binding”, Arntzenius et al. (Mind 113:251–283, 2004 ) present cases in which agents who cannot bind themselves are driven by standard decision theory to choose sequences of actions with disastrous consequences. They defend standard decision theory by arguing that if a decision rule leads agents to disaster only when they cannot bind themselves, this should not be taken to be a mark against the decision rule. I show that this claim has surprising implications for a (...)
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  24. Counterfactual Desire as Belief.J. Robert G. Williams - manuscript
    Bryne & Hajek (1997) argue that Lewis’s (1988; 1996) objections to identifying desire with belief do not go through if our notion of desire is ‘causalized’ (characterized by causal, rather than evidential, decision theory). I argue that versions of the argument go through on certain assumptions about the formulation of decision theory. There is one version of causal decision theory where the original arguments cannot be formulated—the ‘imaging’ formulation that Joyce (1999) advocates. But I argue this formulation is independently objectionable. (...)
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  25. A Foundation for Causal Decision Theory.Brad Armendt - 1986 - Topoi 5 (1):3-19.
    The primary aim of this paper is the presentation of a foundation for causal decision theory. This is worth doing because causal decision theory (CDT) is philosophically the most adequate rational decision theory now available. I will not defend that claim here by elaborate comparison of the theory with all its competitors, but by providing the foundation. This puts the theory on an equal footing with competitors for which foundations have already been given. It turns out that it will also (...)
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  26. The Dr. Psycho Paradox and Newcomb’s Problem.Michael Clark & Nicholas Shackel - 2006 - Erkenntnis 64 (1):85 - 100.
    Nicholas Rescher claims that rational decision theory “may leave us in the lurch”, because there are two apparently acceptable ways of applying “the standard machinery of expected-value analysis” to his Dr. Psycho paradox which recommend contradictory actions. He detects a similar contradiction in Newcomb’s problem. We consider his claims from the point of view of both Bayesian decision theory and causal decision theory. In Dr. Psycho and in Newcomb’s Problem, Rescher has used premisses about probabilities which he assumes to be (...)
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  27. Supposition and Choice: Why 'Causal Decision Theory' is a Misnomer.John Collins - unknown
    This paper has as its topic two recent philosophical disputes. One of these disputes is internal to the project known as decision theory, and while by now familiar to many, may well seem to be of pressing concern only to specialists. It has been carried on over the last twenty years or so, but by now the two opposing camps are pretty well entrenched in their respective positions, and the situation appears to many observers (as well as to some of (...)
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  28. Mixed Strategies and Ratifiability in Causal Decision Theory.William Harper - 1986 - Erkenntnis 24 (1):25 - 36.
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  29. Decision Theory, Intelligent Planning and Counterfactuals.Michael John Shaffer - 2008 - Minds and Machines 19 (1):61-92.
    The ontology of decision theory has been subject to considerable debate in the past, and discussion of just how we ought to view decision problems has revealed more than one interesting problem, as well as suggested some novel modifications of classical decision theory. In this paper it will be argued that Bayesian, or evidential, decision-theoretic characterizations of decision situations fail to adequately account for knowledge concerning the causal connections between acts, states, and outcomes in decision situations, and so they are (...)
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Evidential Decision Theory
  1. The Termination Risks of Simulation Science.Preston Greene - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (2):489-509.
    Historically, the hypothesis that our world is a computer simulation has struck many as just another improbable-but-possible “skeptical hypothesis” about the nature of reality. Recently, however, the simulation hypothesis has received significant attention from philosophers, physicists, and the popular press. This is due to the discovery of an epistemic dependency: If we believe that our civilization will one day run many simulations concerning its ancestry, then we should believe that we are probably in an ancestor simulation right now. This essay (...)
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  2. The Causal Decision Theorist's Guide to Managing the News.J. Dmitri Gallow - 2020 - Journal of Philosophy 117 (3):117-149.
    According to orthodox causal decision theory, performing an action can give you information about factors outside of your control, but you should not take this information into account when deciding what to do. Causal decision theorists caution against an irrational policy of 'managing the news'. But, by providing information about factors outside of your control, performing an act can give you two, importantly different, kinds of good news. It can tell you that the world in which you find yourself is (...)
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  3. Evidence and Rationalization.Ian Wells - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):845-864.
    Suppose that you have to take a test tomorrow but you do not want to study. Unfortunately you should study, since you care about passing and you expect to pass only if you study. Is there anything you can do to make it the case that you should not study? Is there any way for you to ‘rationalize’ slacking off? I suggest that such rationalization is impossible. Then I show that if evidential decision theory is true, rationalization is not only (...)
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  4. Newcomb’s Problem, Arif Ahmed (Editor). Cambridge University Press, 2018, 233 Pages. [REVIEW]J. Dmitri Gallow - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy.
    Newcomb’s Problem, Arif Ahmed (editor). Cambridge University Press, 2018, 233 pages.
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  5. Equal Opportunity and Newcomb’s Problem.Ian Wells - 2019 - Mind 128 (510):429-457.
    The 'Why ain'cha rich?' argument for one-boxing in Newcomb's problem allegedly vindicates evidential decision theory and undermines causal decision theory. But there is a good response to the argument on behalf of causal decision theory. I develop this response. Then I pose a new problem and use it to give a new 'Why ain'cha rich?' argument. Unlike the old argument, the new argument targets evidential decision theory. And unlike the old argument, the new argument is sound.
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1 — 50 / 102