# Expected Comparative Utility Theory: A New Theory of Rational Choice

*Philosophical Forum*49 (1):19-37 (2018)

**Abstract**

This paper proposes a new theory of rational choice, Expected Comparative Utility (ECU) Theory. It is first argued that for any decision option, a, and any state of the world, G, the measure of the choiceworthiness of a in G is the comparative utility of a in G – that is, the difference in utility, in G, between a and whichever alternative to a carries the greatest utility in G. On the basis of this principle, it is then argued, roughly speaking, that an agent should rank her decision options (in terms of how choiceworthy they are) according to their expected comparative utility. For any decision option, a, the expected comparative utility of a is the probability-weighted average of the comparative utilities of a across the different states of the world. It is lastly demonstrated that in a number of decision cases, ECU Theory delivers different verdicts from those of standard decision theory.

**Keywords**

**Categories**

(categorize this paper)

**Reprint years**

2018

**PhilPapers/Archive ID**

ROBECU

**Revision history**

References found in this work BETA

Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong.Mackie, John L.

The Foundations of Statistics.Savage, Leonard J.

The Logic of Decision.Jeffrey, Richard

Scalar Consequentialism the Right Way.Sinhababu, Neil

Status Quo Bias, Rationality, and Conservatism About Value.Nebel, Jacob M.

View all 42 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

**Added to PP index**

2017-05-16

**Total views**

185 ( #14,829 of 38,882 )

**Recent downloads (6 months)**

70 ( #5,633 of 38,882 )

How can I increase my downloads?

**Monthly downloads since first upload**

*This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.*