Can an evidentialist be risk-averse?

Abstract

Two key questions of normative decision theory are: 1) whether the probabilities relevant to decision theory are evidential or causal; and 2) whether agents should be risk-neutral, and so maximise the expected value of the outcome, or instead risk-averse (or otherwise sensitive to risk). These questions are typically thought to be independent---that our answer to one bears little on our answer to the other. But there is a surprising argument that they are not. In this paper, I show that evidential decision theory implies risk neutrality, at least in moral decision-making and at least on plausible empirical assumptions. Take any risk-aversion-accommodating decision theory, apply it using the probabilities prescribed by evidential decision theory, and every verdict of moral betterness you reach will match those of expected value theory.

Author's Profile

Hayden Wilkinson
Oxford University

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2022-11-30

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