Decision under normative uncertainty

Economics and Philosophy 38 (3):372-394 (2022)
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Abstract

While ordinary decision theory focuses on empirical uncertainty, real decision-makers also face normative uncertainty: uncertainty about value itself. From a purely formal perspective, normative uncertainty is comparable to (Harsanyian or Rawlsian) identity uncertainty in the 'original position', where one's future values are unknown. A comprehensive decision theory must address twofold uncertainty -- normative and empirical. We present a simple model of twofold uncertainty, and show that the most popular decision principle -- maximising expected value (`Expectationalism') -- has different formulations, namely Ex-Ante Expectationalism, Ex-Post Expectationalism, and hybrid theories. These alternative theories recommend different decisions, reasoning modes, and attitudes to risk. But they converge under an interesting (necessary and sufficient) condition.

Author Profiles

Franz Dietrich
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Brian Jabarian
University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

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