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Newcomb’s problem and two principles of choice

In Nicholas Rescher (ed.), Essays in Honor of Carl G. Hempel. Reidel. pp. 114--146 (1969)

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  1. Normative Decision Theory.Edward Elliott - forthcoming - Analysis:anz059.
    A review of some major topics of debate in normative decision theory from circa 2007 to 2019. Topics discussed include the ongoing debate between causal and evidential decision theory, decision instability, risk-weighted expected utility theory, decision-making with incomplete preferences, and decision-making with imprecise credences.
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  • The Epistemic Significance of Disagreement.Thomas Kelly - 2005 - In John Hawthorne & Tamar Gendler (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. pp. 167-196.
    Looking back on it, it seems almost incredible that so many equally educated, equally sincere compatriots and contemporaries, all drawing from the same limited stock of evidence, should have reached so many totally different conclusions---and always with complete certainty.
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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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  • Making Ado Without Expectations.Mark Colyvan & Alan Hájek - 2016 - Mind 125 (499):829-857.
    This paper is a response to Paul Bartha’s ‘Making Do Without Expectations’. We provide an assessment of the strengths and limitations of two notable extensions of standard decision theory: relative expectation theory and Paul Bartha’s relative utility theory. These extensions are designed to provide intuitive answers to some well-known problems in decision theory involving gaps in expectations. We argue that both RET and RUT go some way towards providing solutions to the problems in question but neither extension solves all the (...)
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  • Desire, Expectation, and Invariance.Richard Bradley & H. Orri Stefánsson - 2016 - Mind 125 (499):691-725.
    The Desire-as-Belief thesis (DAB) states that any rational person desires a proposition exactly to the degree that she believes or expects the proposition to be good. Many people take David Lewis to have shown the thesis to be inconsistent with Bayesian decision theory. However, as we show, Lewis's argument was based on an Invariance condition that itself is inconsistent with the (standard formulation of the) version of Bayesian decision theory that he assumed in his arguments against DAB. The aim of (...)
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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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  • Decision Theory for Agents with Incomplete Preferences.Adam Bales, Daniel Cohen & Toby Handfield - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (3):453-70.
    Orthodox decision theory gives no advice to agents who hold two goods to be incommensurate in value because such agents will have incomplete preferences. According to standard treatments, rationality requires complete preferences, so such agents are irrational. Experience shows, however, that incomplete preferences are ubiquitous in ordinary life. In this paper, we aim to do two things: (1) show that there is a good case for revising decision theory so as to allow it to apply non-vacuously to agents with incomplete (...)
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  • 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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  • Philosophical Expertise Under the Microscope.Miguel Egler & Lewis Dylan Ross - 2018 - Synthese:1-22.
    Recent experimental studies indicate that epistemically irrelevant factors can skew our intuitions, and that some degree of scepticism about appealing to intuition in philosophy is warranted. In response, some have claimed that philosophers are experts in such a way as to vindicate their reliance on intuitions—this has become known as the ‘expertise defence’. This paper explores the viability of the expertise defence, and suggests that it can be partially vindicated. Arguing that extant discussion is problematically imprecise, we will finesse the (...)
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  • A Response to Prelec.Luc Bovens - 2013 - In Adam Oliver (ed.), Essays in Behavioural Public Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 228-33.
    At the heart of Drazen Prelec’s chapter is the distinction between outcome utility and diagnostic utility. There is a particular distinction in the literature on causal networks (Pearl 2000), namely the distinction between observing and intervening, that maps onto Prelec’s distinction between diagnostic and outcome utility. I will explore the connection between both frameworks.
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  • Is There Progress in Philosophy? The Case for Taking History Seriously.Peter P. Slezak - 2018 - Philosophy 93 (4):529-555.
    In response to widespread doubts among professional philosophers (Russell, Horwich, Dietrich, McGinn, Chalmers), Stoljar argues for a ‘reasonable optimism’ about progress in philosophy. He defends the large and surprising claim that ‘there is progress on all or reasonably many of the big questions.’ However, Stoljar’s caveats and admitted avoidance of historical evidence permits overlooking persistent controversies in philosophy of mind and cognitive science that are essentially unchanged since the 17th Century. Stoljar suggests that his claims are commonplace in philosophy departments (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Combinative Consequentialism and the Problem of Act Versions.Johan E. Gustafsson - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):585-596.
    In the 1960’s, Lars Bergström and Hector-Neri Castañeda noticed a problem with alternative acts and consequentialism. The source of the problem is that some performable acts are versions of other performable acts and the versions need not have the same consequences as the originals. Therefore, if all performable acts are among the agent’s alternatives, act consequentialism yields deontic paradoxes. A standard response is to restrict the application of act consequentialism to certain relevant alternative sets. Many proposals are based on some (...)
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  • Logical Anti-Exceptionalism and Theoretical Equivalence.John Wigglesworth - 2017 - Analysis 77 (4):759-767.
    Anti-exceptionalism about logic takes logical theories to be continuous with scientific theories. Scientific theories are subject to criteria of theoretical equivalence. This article compares two types of theoretical equivalence – one syntactic and one semantic – in the context of logical anti-exceptionalism, and argues that the syntactic approach leads to undesirable consequences. The anti-exceptionalist should therefore take a semantic approach when evaluating whether logical theories, understood as scientific theories, are equivalent. This article argues for a particular semantic approach, in terms (...)
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  • "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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  • Logical Anti-Exceptionalism and Theoretical Equivalence.John Wigglesworth - 2017 - Analysis 77 (4):768-768.
    _ doi:10.1093/analys/anx072 _, published: 27 June 2017.
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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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  • The Unpredictability of Free Choices.G. Schlesinger - 1974 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 25 (3):209-221.
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  • Demons, Deceivers And Liars: Newcomb’s Malin Génie. [REVIEW]Peter Slezak - 2006 - Theory and Decision 61 (3):277-303.
    A fully adequate solution to Newcomb’s Problem (Nozick 1969) should reveal the source of its extraordinary elusiveness and persistent intractability. Recently, a few accounts have independently sought to meet this criterion of adequacy by exposing the underlying source of the problem’s profound puzzlement. Thus, Sorensen (1987), Slezak (1998), Priest (2002) and Maitzen and Wilson (2003) share the ‘no box’ view according to which the very idea that there is a right choice is misconceived since the problem is ill-formed or incoherent (...)
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  • The Inapplicability of Evolutionarily Stable Strategy to the Prisoner's Dilemma.Louis Marinoff - 1990 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 41 (4):461-472.
    Hamilton games-theoretic conflict model, which applies Maynard Smith's concept of evolutionarily stable strategy to the Prisoner's Dilemma, gives rise to an inconsistency between theoretical prescription and empirical results. Proposed resolutions of thisproblem are incongruent with the tenets of the models involved. The independent consistency of each model is restored, and the anomaly thereby circumvented, by a proof that no evolutionarily stable strategy exists in the Prisoner's Dilemma.
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  • Causation: An Alternative.Wolfgang Spohn - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (1):93-119.
    The paper builds on the basically Humean idea that A is a cause of B iff A and B both occur, A precedes B, and A raises the metaphysical or epistemic status of B given the obtaining circumstances. It argues that in pursuit of a theory of deterministic causation this ‘status raising’ is best explicated not in regularity or counterfactual terms, but in terms of ranking functions. On this basis, it constructs a rigorous theory of deterministic causation that successfully deals (...)
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  • Newcomb's Paradox Realized with Backward Causation.Jan Hendrik Schmidt - 1998 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (1):67-87.
    In order to refute the widely held belief that the game known as ‘Newcomb's paradox’ is physically nonsensical and impossible to imagine (e.g. because it involves backward causation), I tell a story in which the game is realized in a classical, deterministic universe in a physically plausible way. The predictor is a collection of beings which are by many orders of magnitude smaller than the player and which can, with their exquisite measurement techniques, observe the particles in the player's body (...)
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  • Causal Decision Theory and the Fixity of the Past.Arif Ahmed - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (4):665-685.
    Causal decision theory (CDT) cares only about the effects of a contemplated act, not its causes. The article constructs a case in which CDT consequently recommends a bet that the agent is certain to lose, rather than a bet that she is certain to win. CDT is plainly giving wrong advice in this case. It therefore stands refuted. 1 The Argument2 The Argument in More Detail2.1 The betting mechanism2.2 Soft determinism2.3 The content of P 2.4 The argument again3 The Descriptive (...)
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Formalizing Preference Utilitarianism in Physical World Models.Caspar Oesterheld - 2016 - Synthese 193 (9).
    Most ethical work is done at a low level of formality. This makes practical moral questions inaccessible to formal and natural sciences and can lead to misunderstandings in ethical discussion. In this paper, we use Bayesian inference to introduce a formalization of preference utilitarianism in physical world models, specifically cellular automata. Even though our formalization is not immediately applicable, it is a first step in providing ethics and ultimately the question of how to “make the world better” with a formal (...)
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  • On the Interpretation of Decision Theory.Samir Okasha - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy:1-25.
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  • A Deliberative Approach to Causation.Fernandes Alison Sutton - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (3):686-708.
    Fundamental physics makes no clear use of causal notions; it uses laws that operate in relevant respects in both temporal directions and that relate whole systems across times. But by relating causation to evidence, we can explain how causation fits in to a physical picture of the world and explain its temporal asymmetry. This paper takes up a deliberative approach to causation, according to which causal relations correspond to the evidential relations we need when we decide on one thing in (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Bridging Psychology and Game Theory Yields Interdependence Theory.Paul A. M. Van Lange & Marcello Gallucci - 2003 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (2):177-178.
    This commentary focuses on the parts of psychological game theory dealing with preference, as illustrated by team reasoning, and supports the conclusion that these theoretical notions do not contribute above and beyond existing theory in understanding social interaction. In particular, psychology and games are already bridged by a comprehensive, formal, and inherently psychological theory, interdependence theory (Kelley & Thibaut 1978; Kelley et al. 2003), which has been demonstrated to account for a wide variety of social interaction phenomena.
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  • The Mutual Investment Game: Peculiarities of Indifference.Robin P. Cubitt & Martin Hollis - 1991 - Analysis 51 (3):113 - 120.
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  • A New Take From Nozick on Newcomb's Problem and Prisoners' Dilemma.S. L. Hurley - 1994 - Analysis 54 (2):65 - 72.
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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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  • Cooperation, Psychological Game Theory, and Limitations of Rationality in Social Interaction.Andrew M. Colman - 2003 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (2):139-153.
    Rational choice theory enjoys unprecedented popularity and influence in the behavioral and social sciences, but it generates intractable problems when applied to socially interactive decisions. In individual decisions, instrumental rationality is defined in terms of expected utility maximization. This becomes problematic in interactive decisions, when individuals have only partial control over the outcomes, because expected utility maximization is undefined in the absence of assumptions about how the other participants will behave. Game theory therefore incorporates not only rationality but also common (...)
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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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  • Causal Decision Theory: A Counterexample.A. 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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  • Logic and Reality: Essays on the Legacy of Arthur Prior.Christopher Menzel - 2000 - Philosophical Review 109 (2):281-286.
    Arthur Prior was a truly philosophical logician. Though he believed formal logic to be worthy of study in its own right, of course, the source of Prior’s great passion for logic was his faith in its capacity for clarifying philosophical issues, untangling philosophical puzzles, and solving philosophical problems. Despite the fact that he has received far less attention than he deserves, Prior has had a profound influence on the development of philosophical and formal logic over the past forty years, a (...)
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  • The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World.Christopher S. Hill - 2001 - Philosophical Review 110 (2):300-303.
    As the subtitle indicates, this book is concerned with the relationship between consciousness and the physical world. It recommends a novel and disturbingly pessimistic view about this topic that it calls “naturalistic mysterianism.” The view is naturalistic because it maintains that states of consciousness are reducible to physical properties of the brain. It counts as “mysterian” because it asserts that the physical properties in question are entirely beyond our ken—that they lie well beyond the scope of contemporary neuroscience, and quite (...)
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  • The Foundations of Causal Decision Theory. [REVIEW]Mirek Janusz - 2001 - Philosophical Review 110 (2):296-300.
    This book makes a significant contribution to the standard decision theory, that is, the theory of choice built around the principle of maximizing expected utility, both to its causal version and to the more traditional noncausal approach. The author’s success in clarifying the foundations of the standard decision theory in general, and causal decision theory in particular, also makes the book uniquely suitable for a person whose research in philosophy has led her to want to learn about contemporary decision theory. (...)
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  • Probability and Conditionals: Belief Revision and Rational Decision.Joseph Y. Halpern - 2000 - Philosophical Review 109 (2):277-281.
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  • Rational Animals: What the Bravest Lion Won't Risk.Ronald de Sousa - 2004 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 4 (12):365-386.
    I begin with a rather unpromising dispute that Nozick once had with Ian Hacking in the pages of the London Review of Books, in which both vied with one another in their enthusiasm to repudiate the thesis that some human people or peoples are closer than others to animality. I shall attempt to show that one can build, on the basis of Nozick’s discussion of rationality, a defense of the view that the capacity tor language places human rationality out of (...)
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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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  • Decision-Theoretic Pluralism.Adam Bales - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (273):801-818.
    A prominent philosophical debate concerns whether we should accept causal decision theory or evidential decision theory as our best theory of rational choice. However, instead of accepting one of these theories at the expense of the other, an alternative would be to accept that both theories play a partial role in the true account of rational choice. In this paper, I defend a pluralist account of this sort. In particular, I argue that rational permissibility is an indeterminate notion, with EDT (...)
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  • Critical Notice.John Martin Fischer - 2001 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (3):427-444.
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