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  1. In defence of Pigou-Dalton for chances.Stefánsson H. Orri - 2023 - Utilitas 35 (4):292-311.
    I defend a weak version of the Pigou-Dalton principle for chances. The principle says that it is better to increase the survival chance of a person who is more likely to die rather than a person who is less likely to die, assuming that the two people do not differ in any other morally relevant respect. The principle justifies plausible moral judgements that standard ex post views, such as prioritarianism and rank-dependent egalitarianism, cannot accommodate. However, the principle can be justified (...)
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  • Normative uncertainty and information value.Riley Harris - 2021 - Dissertation, University of Adelaide
    This thesis is about making decisions when we are uncertain about what will happen, how valuable it will be, and even how to make decisions. Even the most sure-footed amongst us are sometimes uncertain about all three, but surprisingly little attention has been given to the latter two. The three essays that constitute my thesis hope to do a small part in rectifying this problem. The first essay is about the value of finding out how to make decisions. Society spends (...)
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  • Patients, doctors and risk attitudes.Nicholas Makins - 2023 - Journal of Medical Ethics 49 (11):737-741.
    A lively topic of debate in decision theory over recent years concerns our understanding of the different risk attitudes exhibited by decision makers. There is ample evidence that risk-averse and risk-seeking behaviours are widespread, and a growing consensus that such behaviour is rationally permissible. In the context of clinical medicine, this matter is complicated by the fact that healthcare professionals must often make choices for the benefit of their patients, but the norms of rational choice are conventionally grounded in a (...)
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  • Is risk aversion irrational? Examining the “fallacy” of large numbers.H. Orri Stefánsson - 2020 - Synthese 197 (10):4425-4437.
    A moderately risk averse person may turn down a 50/50 gamble that either results in her winning $200 or losing $100. Such behaviour seems rational if, for instance, the pain of losing $100 is felt more strongly than the joy of winning $200. The aim of this paper is to examine an influential argument that some have interpreted as showing that such moderate risk aversion is irrational. After presenting an axiomatic argument that I take to be the strongest case for (...)
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  • How Valuable Are Chances?H. Orii Stefansson & Richard Bradley - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (4):602-625.
    Chance Neutrality is the thesis that, conditional on some proposition being true, its chance of being true should be a matter of practical indifference. The aim of this article is to examine whether Chance Neutrality is a requirement of rationality. We prove that given Chance Neutrality, the Principal Principle entails a thesis called Linearity; the centerpiece of von Neumann and Morgenstern’s expected utility theory. With this in mind, we argue that the Principal Principle is a requirement of practical rationality but (...)
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  • Fair Chance and Modal Consequentialism.H. Orri Stefánsson - 2015 - Economics and Philosophy 31 (3):371-395.
    This paper develops a Multidimensional Decision Theory and argues that it better captures ordinary intuitions about fair distribution of chances than classical decision theory. The theory is an extension of Richard Jeffrey’s decision theory to counterfactual prospects and is a form of Modal Consequentialism, according to which the value of actual outcomes often depends on what could have been. Unlike existing versions of modal consequentialism, the multidimensional decision theory allows us to explicitly model the desirabilistic dependencies between actual and counterfactual (...)
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  • Desirability of conditionals.H. Orri Stefánsson - 2016 - Synthese 193 (6):1967-1981.
    This paper explores the different ways in which conditionals can be carriers of good and bad news. I suggest a general measure of the desirability of conditionals, and use it to explore the different ways in which conditionals can have news value. I conclude by arguing that the desirability of a counterfactual conditional cannot be reduced to the desirability of factual propositions.
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  • Counterfactual Skepticism and Multidimensional Semantics.H. Orri Stefánsson - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (5):875-898.
    It has recently been argued that indeterminacy and indeterminism make most ordinary counterfactuals false. I argue that a plausible way to avoid such counterfactual skepticism is to postulate the existence of primitive modal facts that serve as truth-makers for counterfactual claims. Moreover, I defend a new theory of ‘might’ counterfactuals, and develop assertability and knowledge criteria to suit such unobservable ‘counterfacts’.
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  • What is "real" in Probabilism?H. Orri Stefánsson - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):573-587.
    This paper defends two related claims about belief. First, the claim that unlike numerical degrees of belief, comparative beliefs are primitive and psychologically real. Second, the claim that the fundamental norm of Probabilism is not that numerical degrees of belief should satisfy the probability axioms, but rather that comparative beliefs should satisfy certain constraints.
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  • Gambling with Death.H. Orri Stefánsson - 2020 - Topoi 39 (2):271-281.
    Orthodox expected utility theory imposes too stringent restrictions on what attitudes to risk one can rationally hold. Focusing on a life-and-death gamble, I identify as the main culprit the theory’s Linearity property, according to which the utility of a particular change in the risk of a bad outcome is independent of the original level of risk. Finally, I argue that a recent non-standard Bayesian decision theory, that does not have this property, handles risky gambles better than the orthodox theory.
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  • Radical interpretation and decision theory.Anandi Hattiangadi & H. Orri Stefánsson - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6473-6494.
    This paper takes issue with an influential interpretationist argument for physicalism about intentionality based on the possibility of radical interpretation. The interpretationist defends the physicalist thesis that the intentional truths supervene on the physical truths by arguing that it is possible for a radical interpreter, who knows all of the physical truths, to work out the intentional truths about what an arbitrary agent believes, desires, and means without recourse to any further empirical information. One of the most compelling arguments for (...)
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  • Can redescriptions of outcomes salvage the axioms of decision theory?Jean Baccelli & Philippe Mongin - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (5):1621-1648.
    The basic axioms or formal conditions of decision theory, especially the ordering condition put on preferences and the axioms underlying the expected utility formula, are subject to a number of counter-examples, some of which can be endowed with normative value and thus fall within the ambit of a philosophical reflection on practical rationality. Against such counter-examples, a defensive strategy has been developed which consists in redescribing the outcomes of the available options in such a way that the threatened axioms or (...)
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  • Don’t Look Now.Bernhard Salow & Arif Ahmed - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):327-350.
    Good’s theorem is the apparent platitude that it is always rational to ‘look before you leap’: to gather information before making a decision when doing so is free. We argue that Good’s theorem is not platitudinous and may be false. And we argue that the correct advice is rather to ‘make your act depend on the answer to a question’. Looking before you leap is rational when, but only when, it is a way to do this.
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  • Expected comparative utility theory: A new theory of instrumental rationality.David Robert - manuscript
    This paper aims to address the question of how one ought to choose when one is uncertain about what outcomes will result from one’s choices, but when one can nevertheless assign probabilities to the different possible outcomes. These choices are commonly referred to as choices (or decisions) under risk. I assume in this paper that one ought to make instrumentally rational choices—more precisely, one ought to adopt suitable means to one’s morally permissible ends. Expected utility (EU) theory is generally accepted (...)
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  • Decision Theory without Representation Theorems.Kenny Easwaran - 2014 - Philosophers' Imprint 14.
    Naive versions of decision theory take probabilities and utilities as primitive and use expected value to give norms on rational decision. However, standard decision theory takes rational preference as primitive and uses it to construct probability and utility. This paper shows how to justify a version of the naive theory, by taking dominance as the most basic normatively required preference relation, and then extending it by various conditions under which agents should be indifferent between acts. The resulting theory can make (...)
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  • Decision Theory.Katie Steele & H. Orri Stefánsson - 2015 - In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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