Face Death with Indifference

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Abstract
Causal decision theorists say to pursue acts which you expect to improve things, and avoid acts which you expect to make matters worse. In some choices, no matter how you act, you will expect, after acting, that an alternative act would have made things better. For instance: you must either go to Aleppo or Damascus. Whichever city you end up choosing, you will expect Death to have correctly predicted your choice, and to await in that city. In cases like these, it is natural to think that asymmetries can break the tie and give you reason to favor one act over the other. If the bars are better in Aleppo, and Death is more likely to find you if you go to Damascus, then, all else being equal, going to Aleppo is required. This thought is tempting, but I will argue that it is incorrect. The reason: causalists who say that you should choose Aleppo in cases like these are committed to absurd consequences. They violate weak versions of the independence of irrelevant alternatives and normal-form extensive-form equivalence. These violations in turn lead to irrational and exploitable behavior like paying to to have options presented to you in a certain order, and paying to change your decision once it's been made, for no apparent reason at all. So I conclude that neither city is a required destination---that we should face Death with indifference.
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Archival date: 2019-01-09
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The Foundations of Causal Decision Theory.Levi, Isaac & Joyce, James M.

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