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Franz Dietrich
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
  1. The Relation Between Degrees of Belief and Binary Beliefs: A General Impossibility Theorem.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - manuscript
    Agents are often assumed to have degrees of belief (“credences”) and also binary beliefs (“beliefs simpliciter”). How are these related to each other? A much-discussed answer asserts that it is rational to believe a proposition if and only if one has a high enough degree of belief in it. But this answer runs into the “lottery paradox”: the set of believed propositions may violate the key rationality conditions of consistency and deductive closure. In earlier work, we showed that this problem (...)
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  2. Arrow's Theorem in Judgment Aggregation.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2007 - Social Choice and Welfare 29 (1):19-33.
    In response to recent work on the aggregation of individual judgments on logically connected propositions into collective judgments, it is often asked whether judgment aggregation is a special case of Arrowian preference aggregation. We argue for the converse claim. After proving two impossibility theorems on judgment aggregation (using "systematicity" and "independence" conditions, respectively), we construct an embedding of preference aggregation into judgment aggregation and prove Arrow’s theorem (stated for strict preferences) as a corollary of our second result. Although we thereby (...)
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  3. Reason-Based Choice and Context-Dependence: An Explanatory Framework.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2016 - Economics and Philosophy 32 (2):175-229.
    We introduce a “reason-based” framework for explaining and predicting individual choices. It captures the idea that a decision-maker focuses on some but not all properties of the options and chooses an option whose motivationally salient properties he/she most prefers. Reason-based explanations allow us to distinguish between two kinds of context-dependent choice: the motivationally salient properties may (i) vary across choice contexts, and (ii) include not only “intrinsic” properties of the options, but also “context-related” properties. Our framework can accommodate boundedly rational (...)
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  4. A Reason-Based Theory of Rational Choice.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2013 - Noûs 47 (1):104-134.
    There is a surprising disconnect between formal rational choice theory and philosophical work on reasons. The one is silent on the role of reasons in rational choices, the other rarely engages with the formal models of decision problems used by social scientists. To bridge this gap, we propose a new, reason-based theory of rational choice. At its core is an account of preference formation, according to which an agent’s preferences are determined by his or her motivating reasons, together with a (...)
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  5. Strategy-Proof Judgment Aggregation.Christian List & Franz Dietrich - 2007 - Economics and Philosophy 23 (3):269-300.
    Which rules for aggregating judgments on logically connected propositions are manipulable and which not? In this paper, we introduce a preference-free concept of non-manipulability and contrast it with a preference-theoretic concept of strategy-proofness. We characterize all non-manipulable and all strategy-proof judgment aggregation rules and prove an impossibility theorem similar to the Gibbard--Satterthwaite theorem. We also discuss weaker forms of non-manipulability and strategy-proofness. Comparing two frequently discussed aggregation rules, we show that “conclusion-based voting” is less vulnerable to manipulation than “premise-based voting”, (...)
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  6. Probabilistic Opinion Pooling.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2016 - In A. Hajek & C. Hitchcock (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Probability. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Suppose several individuals (e.g., experts on a panel) each assign probabilities to some events. How can these individual probability assignments be aggregated into a single collective probability assignment? This article reviews several proposed solutions to this problem. We focus on three salient proposals: linear pooling (the weighted or unweighted linear averaging of probabilities), geometric pooling (the weighted or unweighted geometric averaging of probabilities), and multiplicative pooling (where probabilities are multiplied rather than averaged). We present axiomatic characterisations of each class of (...)
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  7. Mentalism Versus Behaviourism in Economics: A Philosophy-of-Science Perspective.Christian List & Franz Dietrich - 2016 - Economics and Philosophy 32 (2):249-281.
    Behaviourism is the view that preferences, beliefs, and other mental states in social-scientific theories are nothing but constructs re-describing people's behaviour. Mentalism is the view that they capture real phenomena, on a par with the unobservables in science, such as electrons and electromagnetic fields. While behaviourism has gone out of fashion in psychology, it remains influential in economics, especially in ‘revealed preference’ theory. We defend mentalism in economics, construed as a positive science, and show that it fits best scientific practice. (...)
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  8. What Matters and How It Matters: A Choice-Theoretic Representation of Moral Theories.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (4):421-479.
    We present a new “reason-based” approach to the formal representation of moral theories, drawing on recent decision-theoretic work. We show that any moral theory within a very large class can be represented in terms of two parameters: a specification of which properties of the objects of moral choice matter in any given context, and a specification of how these properties matter. Reason-based representations provide a very general taxonomy of moral theories, as differences among theories can be attributed to differences in (...)
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  9. Judgment Aggregation Without Full Rationality.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2008 - Social Choice and Welfare 31:15-39.
    Several recent results on the aggregation of judgments over logically connected propositions show that, under certain conditions, dictatorships are the only propositionwise aggregation functions generating fully rational (i.e., complete and consistent) collective judgments. A frequently mentioned route to avoid dictatorships is to allow incomplete collective judgments. We show that this route does not lead very far: we obtain oligarchies rather than dictatorships if instead of full rationality we merely require that collective judgments be deductively closed, arguably a minimal condition of (...)
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  10. Belief Revision Generalized: A Joint Characterization of Bayes's and Jeffrey's Rules.Franz Dietrich, Christian List & Richard Bradley - 2016 - Journal of Economic Theory 162:352-371.
    We present a general framework for representing belief-revision rules and use it to characterize Bayes's rule as a classical example and Jeffrey's rule as a non-classical one. In Jeffrey's rule, the input to a belief revision is not simply the information that some event has occurred, as in Bayes's rule, but a new assignment of probabilities to some events. Despite their differences, Bayes's and Jeffrey's rules can be characterized in terms of the same axioms: "responsiveness", which requires that revised beliefs (...)
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  11. A Model of Jury Decisions Where All Jurors Have the Same Evidence.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2004 - Synthese 142 (2):175 - 202.
    Under the independence and competence assumptions of Condorcet’s classical jury model, the probability of a correct majority decision converges to certainty as the jury size increases, a seemingly unrealistic result. Using Bayesian networks, we argue that the model’s independence assumption requires that the state of the world (guilty or not guilty) is the latest common cause of all jurors’ votes. But often – arguably in all courtroom cases and in many expert panels – the latest such common cause is a (...)
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  12. The Aggregation of Propositional Attitudes: Towards a General Theory.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2010 - Oxford Studies in Epistemology 3.
    How can the propositional attitudes of several individuals be aggregated into overall collective propositional attitudes? Although there are large bodies of work on the aggregation of various special kinds of propositional attitudes, such as preferences, judgments, probabilities and utilities, the aggregation of propositional attitudes is seldom studied in full generality. In this paper, we seek to contribute to filling this gap in the literature. We sketch the ingredients of a general theory of propositional attitude aggregation and prove two new theorems. (...)
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  13. On Coherent Sets and the Transmission of Confirmation.Franz Dietrich & Luca Moretti - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 72 (3):403-424.
    In this paper, we identify a new and mathematically well-defined sense in which the coherence of a set of hypotheses can be truth-conducive. Our focus is not, as usually, on the probability but on the confirmation of a coherent set and its members. We show that, if evidence confirms a hypothesis, confirmation is "transmitted" to any hypotheses that are sufficiently coherent with the former hypothesis, according to some appropriate probabilistic coherence measure such as Olsson’s or Fitelson’s measure. Our findings have (...)
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  14. Probabilistic Opinion Pooling Generalized -- Part One: General Agendas.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2017 - Social Choice and Welfare 48:747–786.
    How can different individuals' probability assignments to some events be aggregated into a collective probability assignment? Classic results on this problem assume that the set of relevant events -- the agenda -- is a sigma-algebra and is thus closed under disjunction (union) and conjunction (intersection). We drop this demanding assumption and explore probabilistic opinion pooling on general agendas. One might be interested in the probability of rain and that of an interest-rate increase, but not in the probability of rain or (...)
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  15. Where Do Preferences Come From?Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2013 - International Journal of Game Theory 42 (3):613-637.
    Rational choice theory analyzes how an agent can rationally act, given his or her preferences, but says little about where those preferences come from. Preferences are usually assumed to be fixed and exogenously given. Building on related work on reasons and rational choice, we describe a framework for conceptualizing preference formation and preference change. In our model, an agent's preferences are based on certain "motivationally salient" properties of the alternatives over which the preferences are held. Preferences may change as new (...)
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  16. Propositionwise Judgment Aggregation: The General Case.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2013 - Social Choice and Welfare 40 (4):1067-1095.
    In the theory of judgment aggregation, it is known for which agendas of propositions it is possible to aggregate individual judgments into collective ones in accordance with the Arrow-inspired requirements of universal domain, collective rationality, unanimity preservation, non-dictatorship and propositionwise independence. But it is only partially known (e.g., only in the monotonic case) for which agendas it is possible to respect additional requirements, notably non-oligarchy, anonymity, no individual veto power, or implication preservation. We fully characterize the agendas for which there (...)
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  17. Aggregating Causal Judgments.Richard Bradley, Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (4):491-515.
    Decision-making typically requires judgments about causal relations: we need to know the causal effects of our actions and the causal relevance of various environmental factors. We investigate how several individuals' causal judgments can be aggregated into collective causal judgments. First, we consider the aggregation of causal judgments via the aggregation of probabilistic judgments, and identify the limitations of this approach. We then explore the possibility of aggregating causal judgments independently of probabilistic ones. Formally, we introduce the problem of causal-network aggregation. (...)
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  18. A Model of Non-Informational Preference Change.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2011 - Journal of Theoretical Politics 23 (2):145-164.
    According to standard rational choice theory, as commonly used in political science and economics, an agent's fundamental preferences are exogenously fixed, and any preference change over decision options is due to Bayesian information learning. Although elegant and parsimonious, such a model fails to account for preference change driven by experiences or psychological changes distinct from information learning. We develop a model of non-informational preference change. Alternatives are modelled as points in some multidimensional space, only some of whose dimensions play a (...)
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  19.  37
    A Theory of Bayesian Groups.Franz Dietrich - manuscript
    A group is often construed as a single agent with its own probabilistic beliefs (credences), which are obtained by aggregating those of the individuals, for instance through averaging. In their celebrated contribution “Groupthink”, Russell et al. (2015) apply the Bayesian paradigm to groups by requiring group credences to undergo a Bayesian revision whenever new information is learnt, i.e., whenever the individual credences undergo a Bayesian revision based on this information. Bayesians should often strengthen this requirement by extending it to non-public (...)
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  20. Probabilistic Opinion Pooling Generalised -- Part Two: The Premise-Based Approach.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2017 - Social Choice and Welfare 48:787–814.
    How can different individuals' probability functions on a given sigma-algebra of events be aggregated into a collective probability function? Classic approaches to this problem often require 'event-wise independence': the collective probability for each event should depend only on the individuals' probabilities for that event. In practice, however, some events may be 'basic' and others 'derivative', so that it makes sense first to aggregate the probabilities for the former and then to let these constrain the probabilities for the latter. We formalize (...)
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  21. Reasons for (Prior) Belief in Bayesian Epistemology.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2013 - Synthese 190 (5):781-786.
    Bayesian epistemology tells us with great precision how we should move from prior to posterior beliefs in light of new evidence or information, but says little about where our prior beliefs come from. It offers few resources to describe some prior beliefs as rational or well-justified, and others as irrational or unreasonable. A different strand of epistemology takes the central epistemological question to be not how to change one’s beliefs in light of new evidence, but what reasons justify a given (...)
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  22.  59
    Judgement Aggregation Under Constraints.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2008 - In T. Boylan & R. Gekker (eds.), Economics, Rational Choice and Normative Philosophy. Routledge.
    In solving judgment aggregation problems, groups often face constraints. Many decision problems can be modelled in terms the acceptance or rejection of certain propositions in a language, and constraints as propositions that the decisions should be consistent with. For example, court judgments in breach-of-contract cases should be consistent with the constraint that action and obligation are necessary and sufficient for liability; judgments on how to rank several options in an order of preference with the constraint of transitivity; and judgments on (...)
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