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Counterfactuals and Two Kinds of Expected Utility

In A. Hooker, J. J. Leach & E. F. McClennen (eds.), Foundations and Applications of Decision Theory. D. Reidel. pp. 125-162 (1978)

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  1. Why Take Both Boxes?Jack Spencer & Ian Wells - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (1):27-48.
    The crucial premise of the standard argument for two-boxing in Newcomb's problem, a causal dominance principle, is false. We present some counterexamples. We then offer a metaethical explanation for why the counterexamples arise. Our explanation reveals a new and superior argument for two-boxing, one that eschews the causal dominance principle in favor of a principle linking rational choice to guidance and actual value maximization.
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  • Some Counterexamples to Causal Decision Theory.Andy Egan - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (1):93-114.
    Many philosophers (myself included) have been converted to causal decision theory by something like the following line of argument: Evidential decision theory endorses irrational courses of action in a range of examples, and endorses “an irrational policy of managing the news”. These are fatal problems for evidential decision theory. Causal decision theory delivers the right results in the troublesome examples, and does not endorse this kind of irrational news-managing. So we should give up evidential decision theory, and be causal decision (...)
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  • Dicing with Death.Arif Ahmed - 2014 - Analysis 74 (4):587-592.
    You should rather play hide-and-seek against someone who cannot predict where you hide than against someone who can, as the article illustrates in connection with a high-stakes example. Causal Decision Theory denies this. So Causal Decision Theory is false.
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  • Reflections on Deliberative Coherence.Leigh B. Kelley - 1988 - Synthese 76 (1):83 - 121.
    This paper treats two problem cases in decision theory, the Newcomb problem and Reed Richter''s Button III. Although I argue that, contrary to Richter, the latter case does not constitute a genuine counterexample to a standard general proposition of (causal) decision theory, I agree with and undertake to amplify his solution to the decision problem in Button III. I then apply the conclusions and distinctions in the foregoing treatment of Button III to the Newcomb problem and argue that a familiar (...)
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  • Riches and Rationality.J. Dmitri Gallow - manuscript
    A one-boxer, Erica, and a two-boxer, Chloe, engage in a familiar debate. The debate begins with Erica asking Chloe: ‘If you’re so smart, then why ain’cha rich?’. As the debate progresses, each gets clearer about what connection they see between rational choice and long run riches. Erica says: long run riches give evidence about rationality, so long as the long run is one on which you face the same choice, and choose the same way, over and over again. Chloe objects (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Uncertainty and the Difficulty of Thinking Through Disjunctions.Eldar Shafir - 1994 - Cognition 50 (1-3):403-430.
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  • Gandalf's Solution to the Newcomb Problem.Ralph Wedgwood - 2013 - Synthese 190 (14):2643–2675.
    This article proposes a new theory of rational decision, distinct from both causal decision theory (CDT) and evidential decision theory (EDT). First, some intuitive counterexamples to CDT and EDT are presented. Then the motivation for the new theory is given: the correct theory of rational decision will resemble CDT in that it will not be sensitive to any comparisons of absolute levels of value across different states of nature, but only to comparisons of the differences in value between the available (...)
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  • Precise Credences.Michael Titelbaum - 2019 - In Richard Pettigrew & Jonathan Weisberg (eds.), The Open Handbook of Formal Epistemology. PhilPaper Foundation. pp. 1-55.
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  • Decision Theory.Johanna Thoma - 2019 - In Richard Pettigrew & Jonathan Weisberg (eds.), The Open Handbook of Formal Epistemology. PhilPapers Foundation. pp. 57-106.
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  • Conditionals.R. A. Briggs - 2019 - In Richard Pettigrew & Jonathan Weisberg (eds.), The Open Handbook of Formal Epistemology. PhilPapers Foundation. pp. 543-590.
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  • Escaping the Cycle.J. Dmitri Gallow - manuscript
    I present a decision problem in which orthodox causal decision theory appears to violate weak versions of the independence of irrelevant alternatives (IIA) and normal-form extensive-form equivalence (NEE). I show that these violations lead to exploitable behavior and long-run poverty. These consequences appear damning, but I urge caution. Causalists can dispute the charge that they violate IIA and NEE in this case by carefully specifying when two options in different decision problems are similar enough to be counted as the same.
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  • Conditioning, Intervening, and Decision.Christopher Hitchcock - 2016 - Synthese 193 (4).
    Clark Glymour, together with his students Peter Spirtes and Richard Scheines, did pioneering work on graphical causal models . One of the central advances provided by these models is the ability to simply represent the effects of interventions. In an elegant paper , Glymour and his student Christopher Meek applied these methods to problems in decision theory. One of the morals they drew was that causal decision theory should be understood in terms of interventions. I revisit their proposal, and extend (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Decision-Theoretic Relativity in Deontic Modality.Nate Charlow - 2018 - Linguistics and Philosophy 41 (3):251-287.
    This paper explores the idea that a semantics for ‘ought’ should be neutral between different ways of deciding what an agent ought to do in a situation. While the idea is, I argue, well-motivated, taking it seriously leads to surprising, even paradoxical, problems for theorizing about the meaning of ‘ought’. This paper describes and defends one strategy—a form of Expressivism for the modal ‘ought’—for navigating these problems.
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  • Modus Ponens and the Logic of Dominance Reasoning.Nate Charlow - manuscript
    If modus ponens is valid (in the usual sense of that notion), then you should take up smoking.
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  • Choosing for Changing Selves.Richard Pettigrew - manuscript
    *This is the first draft of this book* -/- What you value and the extent to which you value it changes over the course of your life. A person might currently greatly value pursuing philosophy, and value spending time in nature much less; but, having watched their parents as they have grown older, and noting that they are very much like their parents, that person might have good reason to think that they will value the pursuit of philosophy much less (...)
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  • Suppositions, Revisions and Decisions.Daniel Y. Elstein & Robert Williams - manuscript
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  • Evidence and Rationalization.Ian Wells - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-20.
    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 (...)
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  • 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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  • Instrumental Rationality.Ralph Wedgwood - 2011 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 6:280-309.
    Is there any distinctive aspect of rationality that deserves the label of “instrumental rationality”? Recently, Joseph Raz (2005) has argued that instrumental rationality is a “myth”. In this essay, I shall give some qualified support to Raz’s position: as I shall argue, many philosophers have indeed been seduced by certain myths about instrumental rationality. Nonetheless, Raz’s conclusion is too strong. Instrumental rationality is not itself a myth: there really is a distinctive aspect of rationality that deserves the label of “instrumental (...)
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  • Plans And Decisions.John L. Pollock - 2004 - Theory and Decision 57 (2):79-107.
    Counterexamples are constructed for classical decision theory, turning on the fact that actions must often be chosen in groups rather than individually, i.e., the objects of rational choice are plans. It is argued that there is no way to define optimality for plans that makes the finding of optimal plans the desideratum of rational decision-making. An alternative called “locally global planning” is proposed as a replacement for classical decision theory. Decision-making becomes a non-terminating process without a precise target rather than (...)
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  • Causation, Decision Theory, and Bell's Theorem: A Quantum Analogue of the Newcomb Problem.Eric G. Cavalcanti - 2010 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3):569-597.
    I apply some of the lessons from quantum theory, in particular from Bell’s theorem, to a debate on the foundations of decision theory and causation. By tracing a formal analogy between the basic assumptions of causal decision theory (CDT)—which was developed partly in response to Newcomb’s problem— and those of a local hidden variable theory in the context of quantum mechanics, I show that an agent who acts according to CDT and gives any nonzero credence to some possible causal interpretations (...)
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  • Why Scientists Gather Evidence.Patrick Maher - 1990 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 41 (1):103-119.
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  • Conditioning and Intervening.Christopher Meek & Clark Glymour - 1994 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 (4):1001-1021.
    We consider the dispute between causal decision theorists and evidential decision theorists over Newcomb-like problems. We introduce a framework relating causation and directed graphs developed by Spirtes et al. (1993) and evaluate several arguments in this context. We argue that much of the debate between the two camps is misplaced; the disputes turn on the distinction between conditioning on an event E as against conditioning on an event I which is an action to bring about E. We give the essential (...)
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  • Reversing 30 Years of Discussion: Why Causal Decision Theorists Should One-Box.Wolfgang Spohn - 2012 - Synthese 187 (1):95-122.
    The paper will show how one may rationalize one-boxing in Newcomb's problem and drinking the toxin in the Toxin puzzle within the confines of causal decision theory by ascending to so-called reflexive decision models which reflect how actions are caused by decision situations (beliefs, desires, and intentions) represented by ordinary unreflexive decision models.
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  • Probability and the Art of Judgement.Ernest W. Adams & Richard Jeffrey - 1993 - Journal of Philosophy 90 (3):154.
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  • 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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  • Team Reasoning and the Rational Choice of Payoff-Dominant Outcomes in Games.Natalie Gold & Andrew M. Colman - forthcoming - Topoi:1-12.
    Standard game theory cannot explain the selection of payoff-dominant outcomes that are best for all players in common-interest games. Theories of team reasoning can explain why such mutualistic cooperation is rational. They propose that teams can be agents and that individuals in teams can adopt a distinctive mode of reasoning that enables them to do their part in achieving Pareto-dominant outcomes. We show that it can be rational to play payoff-dominant outcomes, given that an agent group identifies. We compare team (...)
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  • Lost Memories and Useless Coins: Revisiting the Absentminded Driver.Wolfgang Schwarz - 2015 - Synthese 192 (9):3011-3036.
    The puzzle of the absentminded driver combines an unstable decision problem with a version of the Sleeping Beauty problem. Its analysis depends on the choice between “halfing” and “thirding” as well as that between “evidential” and “causal” decision theory. I show that all four combinations lead to interestingly different solutions, and draw some general lessons about the formulation of causal decision theory, the interpretation of mixed strategies and the connection between rational credence and objective chance.
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  • Belief and Indeterminacy.Michael Caie - 2012 - Philosophical Review 121 (1):1-54.
    An attractive approach to the semantic paradoxes holds that cases of semantic pathology give rise to indeterminacy. What attitude should a rational agent have toward a proposition that it takes to be indeterminate in this sense? Orthodoxy holds that rationality requires that an agent disbelieve such a proposition. I argue that a rational agent should be such that it is indeterminate whether it believes the proposition in question. For rational agents, indeterminacy in the objects of their attitudes will filter up (...)
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  • Varieties of Bayesianism.Jonathan Weisberg - manuscript
    Handbook of the History of Logic, vol. 10, eds. Dov Gabbay, Stephan Hartmann, and John Woods, forthcoming.
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  • Bayesianism, Infinite Decisions, and Binding.Frank Arntzenius, Adam Elga & John Hawthorne - 2004 - Mind 113 (450):251 - 283.
    We pose and resolve several vexing decision theoretic puzzles. Some are variants of existing puzzles, such as 'Trumped' (Arntzenius and McCarthy 1997), 'Rouble trouble' (Arntzenius and Barrett 1999), 'The airtight Dutch book' (McGee 1999), and 'The two envelopes puzzle' (Broome 1995). Others are new. A unified resolution of the puzzles shows that Dutch book arguments have no force in infinite cases. It thereby provides evidence that reasonable utility functions may be unbounded and that reasonable credence functions need not be countably (...)
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  • Regret and Instability in Causal Decision Theory.James M. Joyce - 2012 - Synthese 187 (1):123-145.
    Andy Egan has recently produced a set of alleged counterexamples to causal decision theory in which agents are forced to decide among causally unratifiable options, thereby making choices they know they will regret. I show that, far from being counterexamples, CDT gets Egan's cases exactly right. Egan thinks otherwise because he has misapplied CDT by requiring agents to make binding choices before they have processed all available information about the causal consequences of their acts. I elucidate CDT in a way (...)
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  • 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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  • Triviality Pursuit.Alan Hájek - 2011 - Topoi 30 (1):3-15.
    The thesis that probabilities of conditionals are conditional probabilities has putatively been refuted many times by so-called ‘triviality results’, although it has also enjoyed a number of resurrections. In this paper I assault it yet again with a new such result. I begin by motivating the thesis and discussing some of the philosophical ramifications of its fluctuating fortunes. I will canvas various reasons, old and new, why the thesis seems plausible, and why we should care about its fate. I will (...)
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  • Decision-Theoretic Finitely Iterated Prisoner's Dilemmas.J. W. Carroll - 1999 - Analysis 59 (4):249-256.
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  • Causation, Chance, and the Rational Significance of Supernatural Evidence.Huw Price - 2012 - Philosophical Review 121 (4):483-538.
    In “A Subjectivist’s Guide to Objective Chance,” David Lewis says that he is “led to wonder whether anyone but a subjectivist is in a position to understand objective chance.” The present essay aims to motivate this same Lewisean attitude, and a similar degree of modest subjectivism, with respect to objective causation. The essay begins with Newcomb problems, which turn on an apparent tension between two principles of choice: roughly, a principle sensitive to the causal features of the relevant situation, and (...)
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  • A Plea for Falsehoods.Juan Comesaña - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  • The Equivalence of Bayes and Causal Rationality in Games.Oliver Board - 2006 - Theory and Decision 61 (1):1-19.
    In a seminal paper, Aumann (1987, Econometrica 55, 1–18) showed how the choices of rational players could be analyzed in a unified state space framework. His innovation was to include the choices of the players in the description of the states, thus abolishing Savage’s (1954, The Foundations of Statistics. Wiley, New York) distinction between acts and consequences. But this simplification comes at a price: Aumann’s notion of Bayes rationality does not allow players to evaluate what would happen were they to (...)
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  • Salience and Focusing in Pure Coordination Games.Andrew Colman - 1997 - Journal of Economic Methodology 4 (1):61-81.
    This article is devoted to explaining why decision makers choose salient equilibria or focal points in pure coordination games - games in which players have identical preferences over the set of possible outcomes. Focal points, even when they arise as framing effects based on the labelling of options, are intuitively obvious choices, and experimental evidence shows that decision makers often coordinate successfully by choosing them. In response to arguments that focusing is not rationally justified, a psychological explanation and a conditional (...)
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  • States of Nature and the Nature of States.Edi Karni - 2017 - Economics and Philosophy 33 (1):73-90.
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  • Do the EPR Correlations Pose a Problem for Causal Decision Theory?Adam Koberinski, Lucas Dunlap & William L. Harper - 2017 - Synthese:1-12.
    We argue that causal decision theory is no worse off than evidential decision theory in handling entanglement, regardless of one’s preferred interpretation of quantum mechanics. In recent works, Ahmed and Ahmed and Caulton : 4315–4352, 2014) have claimed the opposite; we argue that they are mistaken. Bell-type experiments are not instances of Newcomb problems, so CDT and EDT do not diverge in their recommendations. We highlight the fact that a Causal Decision Theorist should take all lawlike correlations into account, including (...)
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  • Payoff Dominance and the Stackelberg Heuristic.Andrew M. Colman & Michael Bacharach - 1997 - Theory and Decision 43 (1):1-19.
    Payoff dominance, a criterion for choosing between equilibrium points in games, is intuitively compelling, especially in matching games and other games of common interests, but it has not been justified from standard game-theoretic rationality assumptions. A psychological explanation of it is offered in terms of a form of reasoning that we call the Stackelberg heuristic in which players assume that their strategic thinking will be anticipated by their co-player(s). Two-person games are called Stackelberg-soluble if the players' strategies that maximize against (...)
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  • La Teoría De La Decisión De David Lewis Y La Paradoja De Newcomb.Esteban Céspedes - 2009 - Límite 4 (20):53-68.
    En el presente trabajo se realiza una exposición breve del punto de vista filosófico de la teoría de la decisión, profundizando específicamente en el trabajo que propone David Lewis al respecto. Este autor sustenta que la teoría de la decisión puede sostenerse sobre bases causales o no causales, siendo la Teoría Causal de la Decisión un modelo necesario para el análisis de este tipo de problemas. En casos particulares como en la Paradoja de Newcomb, las teorías no causales de la (...)
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  • Newcomb’s Problem: The $1,000,000 Solution.Kent Bach - 1987 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 17 (2):409-425.
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  • Rationality: A Third Dimension: Frederic Schick.Frederic Schick - 1987 - Economics and Philosophy 3 (1):49-66.
    I want in this paper to do two things. First, I want to respond to some studies that argue that people are often not rational: that people regularly and systematically depart from rationality. The conclusion itself does not worry me. I pressed for the same in a recent book. But the arguments seem to me wrong, and wrong in an interesting way. There may be something to be learned from seeing how and why they fail.
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  • Rational Choice and Action Omnipotence.John L. Pollock - 2002 - Philosophical Review 111 (1):1-23.
    Counterexamples are constructed for the theory of rational choice that results from a direct application of classical decision theory to ordinary actions. These counterexamples turn on the fact that an agent may be unable to perform an action, and may even be unable to try to perform an action. An alternative theory of rational choice is proposed that evaluates actions using a more complex measure, and then it is shown that this is equivalent to applying classical decision theory to "conditional (...)
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