Decision under normative uncertainty

Economics and Philosophy (forthcoming)
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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.
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First archival date: 2020-06-05
Latest version: 6 (2021-09-28)
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2020-06-05

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