Do We Really Need a Knowledge-Based Decision Theory?

Synthese:1-29 (forthcoming)
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Abstract
The paper investigates what type of motivation can be given for adopting a knowledge-based decision theory (hereafter, KBDT). KBDT seems to have several advantages over competing theories of rationality. It is commonly argued that this theory would naturally fit with the intuitive idea that being rational is doing what we take to be best given what we know, an idea often supported by appeal to ordinary folk appraisals. Moreover, KBDT seems to strike a perfect balance between the problematic extremes of subjectivist and objectivist decision theory. We argue that these alleged advantages do not stand up to a closer scrutiny: KBDT inherits the same kinds of problems as alternative decision theoretic frameworks but doesn’t retain any of the respective advantages. Moreover, differently from other knowledge-action principles advanced in the literature, KBDT cannot fully explain the intuitive connections between knowledge and rational action. We conclude that the most serious challenge for knowledge-based decision theorists is to provide a substantive rationale for the adoption of such a view.
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Archival date: 2021-02-25
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