Results for 'Causal Decision Theory'

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  1. Causal Decision Theory, Context, and Determinism.Calum McNamara - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    The classic formulation of causal decision theory (CDT) appeals to counterfactuals. It says that you should aim to choose an option that would have a good outcome, were you to choose it. However, this version of CDT faces trouble if the laws of nature are deterministic. After all, the standard theory of counterfactuals says that, if the laws are deterministic, then if anything—including the choice you make—were different in the present, either the laws would be violated (...)
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  2. Causal Decision Theory and Decision Instability.Brad Armendt - 2019 - Journal of Philosophy 116 (5):263-277.
    The problem of the man who met death in Damascus appeared in the infancy of the theory of rational choice known as causal decision theory. A straightforward, unadorned version of causal decision theory is presented here and applied, along with Brian Skyrms’ deliberation dynamics, to Death in Damascus and similar problems. Decision instability is a fascinating topic, but not a source of difficulty for causal decision theory. Andy Egan’s purported (...)
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  3. Causal Decision Theory: A Counterexample.Arif Ahmed - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (2):289-306.
    The essay presents a novel counterexample to Causal Decision Theory (CDT). Its interest is that it generates a case in which CDT violates the very principles that motivated it in the first place. The essay argues that the objection applies to all extant formulations of CDT and that the only way out for that theory is a modification of it that entails incompatibilism. The essay invites the reader to find this consequence of CDT a reason to (...)
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  4. Causal Decision Theory and EPR correlations.Arif Ahmed & Adam Caulton - 2014 - Synthese 191 (18):4315-4352.
    The paper argues that on three out of eight possible hypotheses about the EPR experiment we can construct novel and realistic decision problems on which (a) Causal Decision Theory and Evidential Decision Theory conflict (b) Causal Decision Theory and the EPR statistics conflict. We infer that anyone who fully accepts any of these three hypotheses has strong reasons to reject Causal Decision Theory. Finally, we extend the original construction (...)
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  5. Law-Abiding Causal Decision Theory.Timothy Luke Williamson & Alexander Sandgren - 2023 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 74 (4):899-920.
    In this paper we discuss how Causal Decision Theory should be modified to handle a class of problematic cases involving deterministic laws. Causal Decision Theory, as it stands, is problematically biased against your endorsing deterministic propositions (for example it tells you to deny Newtonian physics, regardless of how confident you are of its truth). Our response is that this is not a problem for Causal Decision Theory per se, but arises because (...)
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  6. An argument against causal decision theory.Jack Spencer - 2021 - Analysis 81 (1):52-61.
    This paper develops an argument against causal decision theory. I formulate a principle of preference, which I call the Guaranteed Principle. I argue that the preferences of rational agents satisfy the Guaranteed Principle, that the preferences of agents who embody causal decision theory do not, and hence that causal decision theory is false.
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  7. Counterfactual Decision Theory is Causal Decision Theory.J. Dmitri Gallow - forthcoming - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
    The role of causation and counterfactuals in causal decision theory is vexed and disputed. Recently, Brian Hedden (2023) argues that we should abandon causal decision theory in favor of an alternative: counterfactual decision theory. I argue that, pace Hedden, counterfactual decision theory is not a competitor to, but rather a version of, causal decision theory---the most popular version by far. I provide textual evidence that the founding fathers (...)
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  8. A foundation for causal decision theory.Brad Armendt - 1986 - Topoi 5 (1):3-19.
    The primary aim of this paper is the presentation of a foundation for causal decision theory. This is worth doing because causal decision theory (CDT) is philosophically the most adequate rational decision theory now available. I will not defend that claim here by elaborate comparison of the theory with all its competitors, but by providing the foundation. This puts the theory on an equal footing with competitors for which foundations have (...)
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  9. Conditionals in causal decision theory.John Cantwell - 2013 - Synthese 190 (4):661-679.
    This paper explores the possibility that causal decision theory can be formulated in terms of probabilities of conditionals. It is argued that a generalized Stalnaker semantics in combination with an underlying branching time structure not only provides the basis for a plausible account of the semantics of indicative conditionals, but also that the resulting conditionals have properties that make them well-suited as a basis for formulating causal decision theory. Decision theory (at least (...)
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  10. Overdetermination in Intuitive Causal Decision Theory.Esteban Céspedes - 2013 - In Miguel Hoeltje, Thomas Spitzley & Wolfgang Spohn (eds.), Was dürfen wir glauben? Was sollen wir tun? Sektionsbeiträge des achten internationalen Kongresses der Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie e.V.
    Causal decision theory defines a rational action as the one that tends to cause the best outcomes. If we adopt counterfactual or probabilistic theories of causation, then we may face problems in overdetermination cases. Do such problems affect Causal decision theory? The aim of this work is to show that the concept of causation that has been fundamental in all versions of causal decision theory is not the most intuitive one. Since (...)
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  11. Supposition and choice: Why 'causal decision theory' is a misnomer.John Collins - unknown
    This paper has as its topic two recent philosophical disputes. One of these disputes is internal to the project known as decision theory, and while by now familiar to many, may well seem to be of pressing concern only to specialists. It has been carried on over the last twenty years or so, but by now the two opposing camps are pretty well entrenched in their respective positions, and the situation appears to many observers (as well as to (...)
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  12. Aptness and means-end coherence: a dominance argument for causal decision theory.J. Robert G. Williams - 2023 - Synthese 201 (2):1-19.
    Why should we be means-end rational? Why care whether someone’s mental states exhibit certain formal patterns, like the ones formalized in causal decision theory? This paper establishes a dominance argument for these constraints in a finite setting. If you violate the norms of causal decision theory, then your desires will be aptness dominated. That is, there will be some alternative set of desires that you could have had, which would be more apt (closer to (...)
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  13. The Causal Decision Theorist's Guide to Managing the News.J. Dmitri Gallow - 2020 - Journal of Philosophy 117 (3):117-149.
    According to orthodox causal decision theory, performing an action can give you information about factors outside of your control, but you should not take this information into account when deciding what to do. Causal decision theorists caution against an irrational policy of 'managing the news'. But, by providing information about factors outside of your control, performing an act can give you two, importantly different, kinds of good news. It can tell you that the world in (...)
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  14. Mixed strategies and ratifiability in causal decision theory.William Harper - 1986 - Erkenntnis 24 (1):25 - 36.
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  15. Decision theory, symmetry and causal structure: Reply to Meacham and Weisberg.Michael Clark & Nicholas Shackel - 2003 - Mind 112 (448):691-701.
    1Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK. [email protected] of Philosophy, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK. [email protected].
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  16. Counterfactual Decision Theory.Brian Hedden - 2023 - Mind 132 (527):730-761.
    I defend counterfactual decision theory, which says that you should evaluate an action in terms of which outcomes would likely obtain were you to perform it. Counterfactual decision theory has traditionally been subsumed under causal decision theory as a particular formulation of the latter. This is a mistake. Counterfactual decision theory is importantly different from, and superior to, causal decision theory, properly so called. Causation and counterfactuals come apart (...)
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  17. Tournament decision theory.Abelard Podgorski - 2020 - Noûs 56 (1):176-203.
    The dispute in philosophical decision theory between causalists and evidentialists remains unsettled. Many are attracted to the causal view’s endorsement of a species of dominance reasoning, and to the intuitive verdicts it gets on a range of cases with the structure of the infamous Newcomb’s Problem. But it also faces a rising wave of purported counterexamples and theoretical challenges. In this paper I will describe a novel decision theory which saves what is appealing about the (...)
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  18. Normative Decision Theory.Edward Elliott - 2019 - Analysis 79 (4):755-772.
    A review of some major topics of debate in normative decision theory from circa 2007 to 2019. Topics discussed include the ongoing debate between causal and evidential decision theory, decision instability, risk-weighted expected utility theory, decision-making with incomplete preferences, and decision-making with imprecise credences.
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  19. Confession of a causal decision theorist.Adam Elga - 2022 - Analysis 82 (2):203-213.
    (1) Suppose that you care only about speaking the truth, and are confident that some particular deterministic theory is true. If someone asks you whether that theory is true, are you rationally required to answer "yes"? -/- (2) Suppose that you face a problem in which (as in Newcomb's problem) one of your options---call it "taking two boxes"---causally dominates your only other option. Are you rationally required to take two boxes? -/- Those of us attracted to causal (...)
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  20. Decision theory, intelligent planning and counterfactuals.Michael John Shaffer - 2008 - Minds and Machines 19 (1):61-92.
    The ontology of decision theory has been subject to considerable debate in the past, and discussion of just how we ought to view decision problems has revealed more than one interesting problem, as well as suggested some novel modifications of classical decision theory. In this paper it will be argued that Bayesian, or evidential, decision-theoretic characterizations of decision situations fail to adequately account for knowledge concerning the causal connections between acts, states, and (...)
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  21. What decision theory provides the best procedure for identifying the best action available to a given artificially intelligent system?Samuel A. Barnett - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Oxford
    Decision theory has had a long-standing history in the behavioural and social sciences as a tool for constructing good approximations of human behaviour. Yet as artificially intelligent systems (AIs) grow in intellectual capacity and eventually outpace humans, decision theory becomes evermore important as a model of AI behaviour. What sort of decision procedure might an AI employ? In this work, I propose that policy-based causal decision theory (PCDT), which places a primacy on (...)
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  22. Success-First Decision Theories.Preston Greene - 2018 - In Arif Ahmed (ed.), Newcomb's Problem. Cambridge University Press. pp. 115–137.
    The standard formulation of Newcomb's problem compares evidential and causal conceptions of expected utility, with those maximizing evidential expected utility tending to end up far richer. Thus, in a world in which agents face Newcomb problems, the evidential decision theorist might ask the causal decision theorist: "if you're so smart, why ain’cha rich?” Ultimately, however, the expected riches of evidential decision theorists in Newcomb problems do not vindicate their theory, because their success does not (...)
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  23. Decision, causality, and predetermination.Boris Kment - 2023 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 107 (3):638-670.
    Evidential decision theory (EDT) says that the choiceworthiness of an option depends on its evidential connections to possible outcomes. Causal decision theory (CDT) holds that it depends on your beliefs about its causal connections. While Newcomb cases support CDT, Arif Ahmed has described examples that support EDT. A new account is needed to get all cases right. I argue that an option A's choiceworthiness is determined by the probability that a good outcome ensues at (...)
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  24.  76
    The implicit decision theory of non-philosophers.Preston Greene, Andrew Latham, Kristie Miller & Michael Nielsen - 2024 - Synthese 203 (2):1-23.
    This paper empirically investigates whether people’s implicit decision theory is more like causal decision theory or more like a non-causal decision theory (such as evidential decision theory). We also aim to determine whether implicit causalists, without prompting and without prior education, make a distinction that is crucial to causal decision theorists: preferring something _as a news item_ and preferring it _as an object of choice_. Finally, we investigate whether (...)
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  25. Egan and agents: How evidential decision theory can deal with Egan’s dilemma.Daniel Dohrn - 2015 - Synthese 192 (6):1883-1908.
    Andy Egan has presented a dilemma for decision theory. As is well known, Newcomb cases appear to undermine the case for evidential decision theory. However, Egan has come up with a new scenario which poses difficulties for causal decision theory. I offer a simple solution to this dilemma in terms of a modified EDT. I propose an epistemological test: take some feature which is relevant to your evaluation of the scenarios under consideration, evidentially (...)
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  26. Unspecific Evidence and Normative Theories of Decision.Rhys Borchert - forthcoming - Episteme:1-23.
    The nature of evidence is a problem for epistemology, but I argue that this problem intersects with normative decision theory in a way that I think is underappreciated. Among some decision theorists, there is a presumption that one can always ignore the nature of evidence while theorizing about principles of rational choice. In slogan form: decision theory only cares about the credences agents actually have, not the credences they should have. I argue against this presumption. (...)
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  27. Decision and foreknowledge.J. Dmitri Gallow - 2024 - Noûs 58 (1):77-105.
    My topic is how to make decisions when you possess foreknowledge of the consequences of your choice. Many have thought that these kinds of decisions pose a distinctive and novel problem for causal decision theory (CDT). My thesis is that foreknowledge poses no new problems for CDT. Some of the purported problems are not problems. Others are problems, but they are not problems for CDT. Rather, they are problems for our theories of subjunctive supposition. Others are problems, (...)
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  28. Determinism, Counterfactuals, and Decision.Alexander Sandgren & Timothy Luke Williamson - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):286-302.
    Rational agents face choices, even when taking seriously the possibility of determinism. Rational agents also follow the advice of Causal Decision Theory (CDT). Although many take these claims to be well-motivated, there is growing pressure to reject one of them, as CDT seems to go badly wrong in some deterministic cases. We argue that deterministic cases do not undermine a counterfactual model of rational deliberation, which is characteristic of CDT. Rather, they force us to distinguish between counterfactuals (...)
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  29. If you're so smart why are you ignorant? Epistemic causal paradoxes.Adam Morton - 2002 - Analysis 62 (2):110-116.
    I describe epistemic versions of the contrast between causal and conventionally probabilistic decision theory, including an epistemic version of Newcomb's paradox.
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  30. Causal counterfactuals without miracles or backtracking.J. Dmitri Gallow - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 107 (2):439-469.
    If the laws are deterministic, then standard theories of counterfactuals are forced to reject at least one of the following conditionals: 1) had you chosen differently, there would not have been a violation of the laws of nature; and 2) had you chosen differently, the initial conditions of the universe would not have been different. On the relevant readings—where we hold fixed factors causally independent of your choice—both of these conditionals appear true. And rejecting either one leads to trouble for (...)
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  31. A critique of the causal theory of memory.Marina Trakas - 2010 - Dissertation, Ecole des Hautes Etudes En Sciences Sociales
    In this Master's dissertation, I try to show that the causal theory of memory, which is the only theory developed so far that at first view seems more plausible and that could be integrated with psychological explanations and investigations of memory, shows some conceptual and ontological problems that go beyond the internal inconsistencies that each version can present. On one hand, the memory phenomenon analyzed is very limited: in general it is reduced to the conscious act of (...)
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  32. A New Problem with Mixed Decisions, Or: You’ll Regret Reading This Article, But You Still Should.Benjamin Plommer - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (2):349-373.
    Andy Egan recently drew attention to a class of decision situations that provide a certain kind of informational feedback, which he claims constitute a counterexample to causal decision theory. Arntzenius and Wallace have sought to vindicate a form of CDT by describing a dynamic process of deliberation that culminates in a “mixed” decision. I show that, for many of the cases in question, this proposal depends on an incorrect way of calculating expected utilities, and argue (...)
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  33. Sequential Choice and the Agent's Perspective.Arif Ahmed - manuscript
    Causal Decision Theory reckons the choice-worthiness of an option to be completely independent of its evidential bearing on its non-effects. But after one has made a choice this bearing is relevant to future decisions. Therefore it is possible to construct problems of sequential choice in which Causal Decision Theory makes a guaranteed loss. So Causal Decision Theory is wrong. The source of the problem is the idea that agents have a special (...)
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  34. The Sure Thing Principle Leads to Instability.J. Dmitri Gallow - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
    Orthodox causal decision theory is unstable. Its advice changes as you make up your mind about what you will do. Several have objected to this kind of instability and explored stable alternatives. Here, I'll show that explorers in search of stability must part with a vestige of their homeland. There is no plausible stable decision theory which satisfies Savage's Sure Thing Principle. So those in search of stability must learn to live without it.
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  35. Causal Projectivism, Agency, and Objectivity.Elena Popa - 2016 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 30 (2):147-163.
    This article examines how specific realist and projectivist versions of manipulability theories of causation deal with the problem of objectivity. Does an agent-dependent concept of manipulability imply that conflicting causal claims made by agents with different capacities can come out as true? In defence of the projectivist stance taken by the agency view, I argue that if the agent’s perspective is shown to be uniform across different agents, then the truth-values of causal claims do not vary arbitrarily and, (...)
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  36. Escaping the Cycle.J. Dmitri Gallow - 2022 - Mind 131 (521):99-127.
    I present a decision problem in which causal decision theory appears to violate the independence of irrelevant alternatives (IIA) and normal-form extensive-form equivalence (NEE). I show that these violations lead to exploitable behavior and long-run poverty. These consequences appear damning, but I urge caution. This decision should lead causalists to a better understanding of what it takes for a decision between some collection of options to count as a subdecision of a decision between (...)
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  37. Causal exclusion and overdetermination.Markus E. Schlosser - 2006 - In E. Di Nucci & J. McHugh (eds.), Content, Consciousness and Perception. Cambridge Scholars Press.
    This paper is about the causal exclusion argument against non-reductive physicalism. Many philosophers think that this argument poses a serious problem for non-reductive theories of the mind — some think that it is decisive against them. In the first part I will outline non-reductive physicalism and the exclusion argument. Then I will distinguish between three versions of the argument that address three different versions of non-reductive physicalism. According to the first, the relation between mental and physical events is token-identity. (...)
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  38. Why Your Causal Intuitions are Corrupt: Intermediate and Enabling Variables.Christopher Clarke - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-29.
    When evaluating theories of causation, intuitions should not play a decisive role, not even intuitions in flawlessly-designed thought experiments. Indeed, no coherent theory of causation can respect the typical person’s intuitions in redundancy (pre-emption) thought experiments, without disrespecting their intuitions in threat-and-saviour (switching / short-circuit) thought experiments. I provide a deductively sound argument for these claims. Amazingly, this argument assumes absolutely nothing about the nature of causation. I also provide a second argument, whose conclusion is even stronger: the typical (...)
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  39. Smokers and psychos: Egan cases don't work.Arif Ahmed - 2010
    Andy Egan's Smoking Lesion and Psycho Button cases are supposed to be counterexamples to Causal Decision Theory. This paper argues that they are not: more precisely, it argues that if CDT makes the right call in Newcomb's problem then it makes the right call in Egan cases too.
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  40. Equal Opportunity and Newcomb’s Problem.Ian Wells - 2019 - Mind 128 (510):429-457.
    The 'Why ain'cha rich?' argument for one-boxing in Newcomb's problem allegedly vindicates evidential decision theory and undermines causal decision theory. But there is a good response to the argument on behalf of causal decision theory. I develop this response. Then I pose a new problem and use it to give a new 'Why ain'cha rich?' argument. Unlike the old argument, the new argument targets evidential decision theory. And unlike the old (...)
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  41. Rational monism and rational pluralism.Jack Spencer - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (6):1769-1800.
    Consequentialists often assume rational monism: the thesis that options are always made rationally permissible by the maximization of the selfsame quantity. This essay argues that consequentialists should reject rational monism and instead accept rational pluralism: the thesis that, on different occasions, options are made rationally permissible by the maximization of different quantities. The essay then develops a systematic form of rational pluralism which, unlike its rivals, is capable of handling both the Newcomb problems that challenge evidential decision theory (...)
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  42. Kant’s Causal Power Argument Against Empirical Affection.Jonas Jervell Indregard - 2017 - Kantian Review 22 (1):27-51.
    A well-known trilemma faces the interpretation of Kant’s theory of affection, namely whether the objects that affect us are empirical, noumenal, or both. I argue that according to Kant, the things that affect us and cause representations in us are not empirical objects. I articulate what I call the Causal Power Argument, according to which empirical objects cannot affect us because they do not have the right kind of power to cause representations. All the causal powers that (...)
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  43. Robust Biomarkers: Methodologically Tracking Causal Processes in Alzheimer’s Measurement.Vadim Keyser & Louis Sarry - 2020 - In Barbara Osimani & Adam La Caze (eds.), Uncertainty in Pharmacology. pp. 289-318.
    In biomedical measurement, biomarkers are used to achieve reliable prediction of, and useful causal information about patient outcomes while minimizing complexity of measurement, resources, and invasiveness. A biomarker is an assayable metric that discloses the status of a biological process of interest, be it normative, pathophysiological, or in response to intervention. The greatest utility from biomarkers comes from their ability to help clinicians (and researchers) make and evaluate clinical decisions. In this paper we discuss a specific methodological use of (...)
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  44. Neutral Theory, Biased World.William Bausman - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Minnesota
    The ecologist today finds scarce ground safe from controversy. Decisions must be made about what combination of data, goals, methods, and theories offers them the foundations and tools they need to construct and defend their research. When push comes to shove, ecologists often turn to philosophy to justify why it is their approach that is scientific. Karl Popper’s image of science as bold conjectures and heroic refutations is routinely enlisted to justify testing hypotheses over merely confirming them. One of the (...)
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  45. Richness Theory: From Value to Action.Gregory M. Mikkelson - 2014 - Les ateliers de l'éthique/The Ethics Forum 9 (2):99-109.
    Richness theory offers a promising axiology. In this paper, I discuss how to translate it into a deontology. To do so, I recruit the concept of moral distance from a recently developed epistemology, and construe it in terms of causal power. Finally, I apply the resulting decision-theoretic framework to the question of how best to avert ecological disaster over the next 36 years and achieve ecological harmony over the next 986.
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  46. Arntzenius on ‘Why ain’cha rich?’.Arif Ahmed & Huw Price - 2012 - Erkenntnis 77 (1):15-30.
    The best-known argument for Evidential Decision Theory (EDT) is the ‘Why ain’cha rich?’ challenge to rival Causal Decision Theory (CDT). The basis for this challenge is that in Newcomb-like situations, acts that conform to EDT may be known in advance to have the better return than acts that conform to CDT. Frank Arntzenius has recently proposed an ingenious counter argument, based on an example in which, he claims, it is predictable in advance that acts that (...)
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  47. Decision theory for agents with incomplete preferences.Adam Bales, Daniel Cohen & Toby Handfield - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (3):453-70.
    Orthodox decision theory gives no advice to agents who hold two goods to be incommensurate in value because such agents will have incomplete preferences. According to standard treatments, rationality requires complete preferences, so such agents are irrational. Experience shows, however, that incomplete preferences are ubiquitous in ordinary life. In this paper, we aim to do two things: (1) show that there is a good case for revising decision theory so as to allow it to apply non-vacuously (...)
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  48. Decision Theory.Lara Buchak - 2016 - In Christopher Hitchcock & Alan Hajek (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    Decision theory has at its core a set of mathematical theorems that connect rational preferences to functions with certain structural properties. The components of these theorems, as well as their bearing on questions surrounding rationality, can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Philosophy’s current interest in decision theory represents a convergence of two very different lines of thought, one concerned with the question of how one ought to act, and the other concerned with the question (...)
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  49. Riches and Rationality.J. Dmitri Gallow - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (1):114-129.
    A one-boxer, Erica, and a two-boxer, Chloe, engage in a familiar debate. The debate begins with Erica asking Chloe: ‘If you’re so smart, then why ain’cha rich?’. As the debate progresses, Chloe is led to endorse a novel causalist theory of rational choice. This new theory allows Chloe to forge a connection between rational choice and long-run riches. In brief: Chloe concludes that it is not long-run wealth but rather long-run wealth creation which is symptomatic of rationality.
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  50. Decision theory and de minimis risk.Martin Smith - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-24.
    A de minimis risk is defined as a risk that is so small that it may be legitimately ignored when making a decision. While ignoring small risks is common in our day-to-day decision making, attempts to introduce the notion of a de minimis risk into the framework of decision theory have run up against a series of well-known difficulties. In this paper, I will develop an enriched decision theoretic framework that is capable of overcoming two (...)
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