Fixing Stochastic Dominance

The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (forthcoming)
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Decision theorists widely accept a stochastic dominance principle: roughly, if a risky prospect A is at least as probable as another prospect B to result in something at least as good, then A is at least as good as B. Recently, philosophers have applied this principle even in contexts where the values of possible outcomes do not have the structure of the real numbers: this includes cases of incommensurable values and cases of infinite values. But in these contexts the usual formulation of stochastic dominance is wrong. We show this with several counterexamples. Still, the motivating idea behind stochastic dominance is a good one: it is supposed to provide a way of applying dominance reasoning in the stochastic context of probability distributions. We give two new formulations of stochastic dominance that are more faithful to this guiding idea, and prove that they are equivalent.

Author's Profile

Jeffrey Sanford Russell
University of Southern California


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