Confession of a causal decision theorist

Analysis 82 (2):203-213 (2022)
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(1) Suppose that you care only about speaking the truth, and are confident that some particular deterministic theory is true. If someone asks you whether that theory is true, are you rationally required to answer "yes"? (2) Suppose that you face a problem in which (as in Newcomb's problem) one of your options---call it "taking two boxes"---causally dominates your only other option. Are you rationally required to take two boxes? Those of us attracted to causal decision theory are under pressure to answer "yes" to both questions. However, it has been shown that many existing decision theories are inconsistent with doing so (Ahmed 2014). A simple proof shows that the same goes for an even wider class of theories: all "suppositional" decision theories. The moral is that causal decision theorists must either answer "no" to one of the above questions, or else abandon suppositional decision theories.

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Adam Elga
Princeton University


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