Decision Theory

Edited by Rachael Briggs (Australian National University, Stanford University)
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  1. Questions in Action.Daniel Hoek - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophy.
    Choices confront us with questions. How we act depends on our answers to those questions. So the way our beliefs guide our choices is not just a function of their informational content, but also depends systematically on the questions those beliefs address. This paper gives a precise account of the interplay between choices, questions and beliefs, and harnesses this account to obtain a principled approach to the problem of deduction. The result is a novel theory of belief-guided action that explains (...)
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  2. Christianity & Science in Harmony?Robert W. P. Luk - 2021 - Science and Philosophy 9 (2):61-82.
    A worldview that does not involve religion or science seems to be incomplete. However, a worldview that includes both religion and science may arouse concern of incompatibility. This paper looks at the particular religion, Christianity, and proceeds to develop a worldview in which Christianity and Science are compatible with each other. The worldview may make use of some ideas of Christianity and may involve some author’s own ideas on Christianity. It is thought that Christianity and Science are in harmony in (...)
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  3. Pragmatic Arguments for Theism.Elizabeth Jackson - forthcoming - In John Greco, Tyler Dalton McNabb & Jonathan Fuqua (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Religious Epistemology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Traditional theistic arguments conclude that God exists. Pragmatic theistic arguments, by contrast, conclude that you ought to believe in God. The two most famous pragmatic theistic arguments are put forth by Blaise Pascal (1662) and William James (1896). Pragmatic arguments for theism can be summarized as follows: believing in God has significant benefits, and these benefits aren’t available for the unbeliever. Thus, you should believe in, or ‘wager on’, God. This article distinguishes between various kinds of theistic wagers, including finite (...)
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  4. Risco: modal ou probablístico?Gustavo Oliva de Oliveira - 2021 - In Valentinne Serpa, Vinícius Felipe Posselt, Bruna Diedrich & Darlan Lorenzetti (eds.), XXI SEMANA ACADÊMICA DO PPG EM FILOSOFIA DA PUCRS VOLUME II – FILOSOFIA MEDIEVAL / FEMINISMO / FILOSOFIA ANALÍTICA. Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil: pp. 125-140.
    The traditional conception of risk is probabilistic, according to which the degree of risk of an event is determined by the probability of its occurence. Recently this view was challenged by Duncan Pritchard (2015, 2016), who suggested a modal theory of risk, centered in the idea that the riskiness of events depends on the modal distance between the actual world and worlds where the event obtains. What is attractive about this theory, according to Pritchard, is that it explains our judgement (...)
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  5. Normative Formal Epistemology as Modelling.Joe Roussos - forthcoming - The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    I argue that normative formal epistemology (NFE) is best understood as modelling, in the sense that this is the reconstruction of its methodology on which NFE is doing best. I focus on Bayesianism and show that it has the characteristics of modelling. But modelling is a scientific enterprise, while NFE is normative. I thus develop an account of normative models on which they are idealised representations put to normative purposes. Normative assumptions, such as the transitivity of comparative credence, are characterised (...)
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  6. Tensed Facts and the Fittingness of Our Attitudes.Kristie Miller - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.
    We direct different attitudes towards states of affairs depending on where in time those states of affairs are located. Call this the type asymmetry. The type asymmetry appears fitting. For instance, it seems fitting to feel guilt or regret only about states of affairs that are past, and anticipation only of states of affairs that are future. It has been argued that the type asymmetry could only be fitting if there are tensed facts, and hence that since it is fitting, (...)
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  7. Can Redescriptions of Outcomes Salvage the Axioms of Decision Theory?Jean Baccelli & Philippe Mongin - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-28.
    The basic axioms or formal conditions of decision theory, especially the ordering condition put on preferences and the axioms underlying the expected utility formula, are subject to a number of counter-examples, some of which can be endowed with normative value and thus fall within the ambit of a philosophical reflection on practical rationality. Against such counter-examples, a defensive strategy has been developed which consists in redescribing the outcomes of the available options in such a way that the threatened axioms or (...)
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  8. Changing Use of Formal Methods in Philosophy: Late 2000s Vs. Late 2010s.Samuel Fletcher, Joshua Knobe, Gregory Wheeler & Brian Woodcock - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):14555-14576.
    Traditionally, logic has been the dominant formal method within philosophy. Are logical methods still dominant today, or have the types of formal methods used in philosophy changed in recent times? To address this question, we coded a sample of philosophy papers from the late 2000s and from the late 2010s for the formal methods they used. The results indicate that the proportion of papers using logical methods remained more or less constant over that time period but the proportion of papers (...)
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  9. Wishing, Decision Theory, and Two-Dimensional Content.Kyle H. Blumberg - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophy.
    This paper is about two requirements on wish reports whose interaction motivates a novel semantics for these ascriptions. The first requirement concerns the ambiguities that arise when determiner phrases, e.g. definite descriptions, interact with `wish'. More specifically, several theorists have recently argued that attitude ascriptions featuring counterfactual attitude verbs license interpretations on which the determiner phrase is interpreted relative to the subject's beliefs. The second requirement involves the fact that desire reports in general require decision-theoretic notions for their analysis. The (...)
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  10. Editorial to “Decision Theory and the Future of AI”.Yang Liu, Stephan Hartmann & Huw Price - 2021 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 27):6413-6414.
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  11. A Battle in the Statistics Wars: A Simulation-Based Comparison of Bayesian, Frequentist and Williamsonian Methodologies.Mantas Radzvilas, William Peden & Francesco De Pretis - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):13689-13748.
    The debates between Bayesian, frequentist, and other methodologies of statistics have tended to focus on conceptual justifications, sociological arguments, or mathematical proofs of their long run properties. Both Bayesian statistics and frequentist (“classical”) statistics have strong cases on these grounds. In this article, we instead approach the debates in the “Statistics Wars” from a largely unexplored angle: simulations of different methodologies’ performance in the short to medium run. We conducted a large number of simulations using a straightforward decision problem based (...)
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  12. The Economics and Philosophy of Risk.H. Orri Stefansson - 2021 - In Conrad Heilmann & Julian Reiss (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Economics. Routledge.
    Neoclassical economists use expected utility theory to explain, predict, and prescribe choices under risk, that is, choices where the decision-maker knows---or at least deems suitable to act as if she knew---the relevant probabilities. Expected utility theory has been subject to both empirical and conceptual criticism. This chapter reviews expected utility theory and the main criticism it has faced. It ends with a brief discussion of subjective expected utility theory, which is the theory neoclassical economists use to explain, predict, and prescribe (...)
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  13. Risk Aversion and Elite-Group Ignorance.David Kinney & Liam Kofi Bright - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Critical race theorists and standpoint epistemologists argue that agents who are members of dominant social groups are often in a state of ignorance about the extent of their social dominance, where this ignorance is explained by these agents' membership in a socially dominant group (e.g., Mills 2007). To illustrate this claim bluntly, it is argued: 1) that many white men do not know the extent of their social dominance, 2) that they remain ignorant as to the extent of their dominant (...)
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  14. Decision-Making as an Orientation Skill in Poker and Everyday Life: Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets and the Philosophy of Orientation.Reinhard G. Mueller - 2020 - Orientation Skills in Everyday and Professional Life.
    This essay investigates, via the concepts of the philosophy of orientation, Annie Duke’s decision-making theory in "Thinking in Bets" and scrutinizes as to what extent one can universalize the 'orientation skill' of decision-making with regard to our everyday and professional life.
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  15. World Domination in Decision Theory and Formal Epistemology.Stephen Yablo - manuscript
  16. The Fundamental Unity Of Voluntary And Involuntary Actions.Aadarsh Singh - manuscript
    Social structure of our society decides the actions that are allowed by any individual human being. All the actions of an individual are characterized into voluntary or involuntary actions, which decides the behaviour of society towards that individual for that action. In this paper it has been shown that the characterization of action into these two categories is fundamentally flawed.
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  17. Philosophy and Digitization: Dangers and Possibilities in the New Digital Worlds.Esther Oluffa Pedersen & Maria Brincker - 2021 - SATS 22 (1):1-9.
    Our world is under going an enormous digital transformation. Nearly no area of our social, informational, political, economic, cultural, and biological spheres are left unchanged. What can philosophy contribute as we try to under- stand and think through these changes? How does digitization challenge past ideas of who we are and where we are headed? Where does it leave our ethical aspirations and cherished ideals of democracy, equality, privacy, trust, freedom, and social embeddedness? Who gets to decide, control, and harness (...)
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  18. Intention, Modality, & Decision Theory.Hasen Khudairi - manuscript
    This paper argues that the types of intention can be modeled as modal operators. I delineate the intensional-semantic profiles of the types of intention, and provide a precise account of how the types of intention are unified in virtue of both their operations in a single, encompassing, epistemic modal space, and their role in practical reasoning. I endeavor to provide reasons adducing against the proposal that the types of intention are reducible to the mental states of belief and desire, where (...)
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  19. Exploring the Limits of Decision Theory, or Refuting It?: José Luis Bermúdez: Frame It Again: New Tools for Rational Decision-Making. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021, 340 Pp, $24.95 HB. [REVIEW]Annemarie Kalis - 2021 - Metascience 30 (3):341-344.
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  20. No Fact of the Middle.Justin Khoo - forthcoming - Noûs.
    A middle fact is a true proposition about what would have happened had A been true (where A is in fact false), whose truth isn't entailed by any non-counterfactual facts. I argue that there are no middle facts; if there were, we wouldn't know them, and our ignorance of them would result in ignorance about whether regret is fitting in cases where we clearly know it is. But there's a problem. Consider an unflipped fair coin which is such that no (...)
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  21. Choosing for Changing Selves. [REVIEW]David Strohmaier - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (3):675-678.
    Choosing for Changing Selves. By Pettigrew, Richard.
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  22. Making Confident Decisions with Model Ensembles.Joe Roussos, Richard Bradley & Roman Frigg - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (3):439-460.
    Many policy decisions take input from collections of scientific models. Such decisions face significant and often poorly understood uncertainty. We rework the so-called confidence approach to tackl...
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  23. Is “Willpower” a Scientific Concept? Suppressing Temptation Contra Resolution in the Face of Adversity.Elias L. Khalil - 2021 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 44.
    The distinction that Ainslie draws among the triple-phenomena “suppression,” “resolve,” and “habit” is a great advance in decision making theory. But the conceptual machinery “willpower,” and its underpinning distinction between small/soon rewards as opposed to large/later rewards, provides a faulty framework to understand the triple-phenomena.
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  24. Beyond Uncertainty: Reasoning with Unknown Possibilities.Katie Steele & H. Orri Stefánsson - 2021 - Cambridge University Press.
    The main aim of this book is to introduce the topic of limited awareness, and changes in awareness, to those interested in the philosophy of decision-making and uncertain reasoning. (This is for the series Elements of Decision Theory published by Cambridge University Press and edited by Martin Peterson).
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  25. Decision Theory and Morality.James Dreier - 2004 - In Alfred R. Mele & Piers Rawling (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Rationality. Oup Usa.
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  26. De l'Optimisme.Olivier Massin - 2019 - Chroniques Universitaires 2019:58-73.
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  27. Against Methodological Gambling.Borut Trpin - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    Should a scientist rely on methodological triangulation? Heesen et al. (Synthese 196(8):3067–3081, 2019) recently provided a convincing affirmative answer. However, their approach requires belief gambles if the evidence is discordant. We instead propose epistemically modest triangulation (EMT), according to which one should withhold judgement in such cases. We show that for a scientist in a methodologically diffident situation the expected utility of EMT is greater than that of Heesen et al.’s (2019) triangulation or that of using a single method. We (...)
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  28. The 'Unified' Background.Ilexa Yardley - 2021 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory.
    Why 'social' media 'upsets' us. What is in your 'mind' and, why? The 'unified' background is an uber-simple circle.
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  29. On the Recent Philosophy of Decision Theory.Ivan Moscati - 2020 - Journal of Economic Methodology 28 (1):98-106.
    In the philosophy of economics, the last fifteen years have witnessed an intense discussion about the epistemological status of economic models of decision making and their theoretical components,...
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  30. Decision-Theoretic and Risk-Based Approaches to Naked Statistical Evidence: Some Consequences and Challenges.Rafal Urbaniak, Alicja Kowalewska, Pavel Janda & Patryk Dziurosz-Serafinowicz - 2020 - Law, Probability and Risk 19 (1):67-83.
    In the debate about the legal value of naked statistical evidence, Di Bello argues that (1) the likelihood ratio of such evidence is unknown, (2) the decision-theoretic considerations indicate that a conviction based on such evidence is unacceptable when expected utility maximization is combined with fairness constraints, and (3) the risk of mistaken conviction based on such evidence cannot be evaluated and is potentially too high. We argue that Di Bello’s argument for (1) works in a rather narrow context, and (...)
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  31. Measuring Utility: From the Marginal Revolution to Behavioral Economics, Ivan Moscati. Oxford University Press, 2019, Vii + 326 Pages. [REVIEW]Catherine Herfeld - 2021 - Economics and Philosophy 37 (1):144-150.
  32. Do We Really Need a Knowledge-Based Decision Theory?Davide Fassio & Jie Gao - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):7031-7059.
    The paper investigates what type of motivation can be given for adopting a knowledge-based decision theory. KBDT seems to have several advantages over competing theories of rationality. It is commonly argued that this theory would naturally fit with the intuitive idea that being rational is doing what we take to be best given what we know, an idea often supported by appeal to ordinary folk appraisals. Moreover, KBDT seems to strike a perfect balance between the problematic extremes of subjectivist and (...)
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  33. Pascal's Mugger Strikes Again.Dylan Balfour - 2021 - Utilitas 33 (1):118-124.
    In a well-known paper, Nick Bostrom presents a confrontation between a fictionalised Blaise Pascal and a mysterious mugger. The mugger persuades Pascal to hand over his wallet by exploiting Pascal's commitment to expected utility maximisation. He does so by offering Pascal an astronomically high reward such that, despite Pascal's low credence in the mugger's truthfulness, the expected utility of accepting the mugging is higher than rejecting it. In this article, I present another sort of high value, low credence mugging. This (...)
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  34. Permissivism and the Truth Connection.Michele Palmira - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-16.
    Permissivism is the view that, sometimes, there is more than one doxastic attitude that is perfectly rationalised by the evidence. Impermissivism is the denial of Permissivism. Several philosophers, with the aim to defend either Impermissivism or Permissivism, have recently discussed the value of (im)permissive rationality. This paper focuses on one kind of value-conferring considerations, stemming from the so-called “truth-connection” enjoyed by rational doxastic attitudes. The paper vindicates the truth-connected value of permissive rationality by pursuing a novel strategy which rests on (...)
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  35. Decisions with Multiple Objectives.Ralph Keeney & Howard Raiffa - 1976 - New York: Wiley.
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  36. Psychometric Evaluation of the Chinese Version of the Decision Regret Scale.Richard Huan Xu, Ling Ming Zhou, Eliza Laiyi Wong, Dong Wang & Jing Hui Chang - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
    Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the psychometric properties of the Chinese version of the decision regret scale. Methods: The data of 704 patients who completed the DRSc were used for the analyses. We evaluated the construct, convergent/discriminant, and known-group validity; internal consistency and test–retest reliability; and the item invariance of the DRSc. A receiver operating characteristic curve was employed to confirm the optimal cutoff point of the scale. Results: A confirmatory factor analysis indicated that a one-factor (...)
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  37. The Tragedy of the Risk Averse.H. Orri Stefánsson - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    Those who are risk averse with respect to money, and thus turn down some gambles with positive monetary expectations, are nevertheless often willing to accept bundles involving multiple such gambles. Therefore, it might seem that such people should become more willing to accept a risky but favourable gamble if they put it in context with the collection of gambles that they predict they will be faced with in the future. However, it turns out that when a risk averse person adopts (...)
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  38. Fragmentation and Logical Omniscience.Adam Elga & Agustin Rayo - forthcoming - Noûs.
    It would be good to have a Bayesian decision theory that assesses our decisions and thinking according to everyday standards of rationality — standards that do not require logical omniscience (Garber 1983, Hacking 1967). To that end we develop a “fragmented” decision theory in which a single state of mind is represented by a family of credence functions, each associated with a distinct choice condition (Lewis 1982, Stalnaker 1984). The theory imposes a local coherence assumption guaranteeing that as an agent's (...)
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  39. Weighing and Aggregating Reasons Under Uncertainty: A Trilemma.Ittay Nissan-Rozen - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (9):2853-2871.
    I discuss the trilemma that consists of the following three principles being inconsistent: 1. The Common Principle: if one distribution, A, necessarily brings a higher total sum of personal value that is distributed in a more egalitarian way than another distribution, B, A is more valuable than B. 2. (Weak) ex-ante Pareto: if one uncertain distribution, A, is more valuable than another uncertain distribution, B, for each patient, A is more valuable than B. 3. Pluralism about attitudes to risk (Pluralism): (...)
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  40. Policymaking Under Scientific Uncertainty.Joe Roussos - 2020 - Dissertation, London School of Economics
    Policymakers who seek to make scientifically informed decisions are constantly confronted by scientific uncertainty and expert disagreement. This thesis asks: how can policymakers rationally respond to expert disagreement and scientific uncertainty? This is a work of non-ideal theory, which applies formal philosophical tools developed by ideal theorists to more realistic cases of policymaking under scientific uncertainty. I start with Bayesian approaches to expert testimony and the problem of expert disagreement, arguing that two popular approaches— supra-Bayesianism and the standard model of (...)
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  41. Rational Choice Using Imprecise Probabilities and Utilities.Paul Weirich - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    An agent often does not have precise probabilities or utilities to guide resolution of a decision problem. I advance a principle of rationality for making decisions in such cases. To begin, I represent the doxastic and conative state of an agent with a set of pairs of a probability assignment and a utility assignment. Then I support a decision principle that allows any act that maximizes expected utility according to some pair of assignments in the set. Assuming that computation of (...)
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  42. How Thin Rational Choice Theory Explains Choices.Roberto Fumagalli - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 83:63-74.
    The critics of rational choice theory (RCT) frequently build on the contrast between so-called thick and thin applications of RCT to argue that thin RCT lacks the potential to explain the choices of real-world agents. In this paper, I draw on often-cited RCT applications in several decision sciences to demonstrate that despite this prominent critique there are at least two different senses in which thin RCT can explain real-world agents’ choices. I then defend this thesis against the most influential objections (...)
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  43. Regret Averse Opinion Aggregation.Lee Elkin - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    It is often suggested that when opinions differ among individuals in a group, the opinions should be aggregated to form a compromise. This paper compares two approaches to aggregating opinions, linear pooling and what I call opinion agglomeration. In evaluating both strategies, I propose a pragmatic criterion, No Regrets, entailing that an aggregation strategy should prevent groups from buying and selling bets on events at prices regretted by their members. I show that only opinion agglomeration is able to satisfy the (...)
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  44. Reasoning in Versus About Attitudes: Forming Versus Discovering One's Mental States.Franz Dietrich & Antonios Staras - manuscript
    One reasons not just in beliefs, but also in intentions, preferences, and other attitudes. For instance, one forms preferences from preferences, or intentions from beliefs and preferences. Formal logic has proved useful for modelling reasoning in beliefs -- a process of forming beliefs from beliefs. Can logic also model reasoning in multiple attitudes? We identify principled obstacles. Logic can model reasoning about one's attitudes -- a process of discovering attitudes -- but not reasoning in attitudes -- a process of forming (...)
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  45. Money Pump with Foresight.Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2000 - In Value and Choice : Some Common Themes in Decision Theory and Moral Philosophy. pp. 201-234.
    I describe in section 1 how cyclical preferences can arise. In section 2, I relate preference to judgments of choiceworthiness and distinguish between two kinds of preference cycles, vicious and benign. In section 3, I run through the standard money pump in order to show, in section 4, how this pump can be stopped by foresight, using backward induction. A new money pump that *cannot* be stopped by foresight is presented in section 5. This pump works even for agents with (...)
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  46. Philosophy of Language for Decision Theory Part 2: Indexicals and Vagueness.Anna Mahtani - 2017 - Lse Philosophy Blog.
    In her second post in this series, Anna Mahtani explores the parallels between philosophy of language and decision theory’s treatment of indexicals and vagueness.
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  47. Moral Uncertainty.William MacAskill, Krister Bykvist & Toby Ord - 2020 - Oxford University Press.
    How should we make decisions when we're uncertain about what we ought, morally, to do? Decision-making in the face of fundamental moral uncertainty is underexplored terrain: MacAskill, Bykvist, and Ord argue that there are distinctive norms by which it is governed, and which depend on the nature of one's moral beliefs.
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  48. In Favor of Mentalism in Economics: A Conversation with Christian List.Christian List & Catherine Herfeld - forthcoming - In Catherine Herfeld (ed.), Conversations on Rational Choice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    This is an edited transcript of a conversation to be included in the collection "Conversations on Rational Choice". The conversation was conducted in Munich on 7 and 9 February 2016.
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  49. What Was Fair in Actuarial Fairness?Antonio J. Heras, Pierre-Charles Pradier & David Teira - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (2):91-114.
    In actuarial parlance, the price of an insurance policy is considered fair if customers bearing the same risk are charged the same price. The estimate of this fair amount hinges on the expected value obtained by weighting the different claims by their probability. We argue that, historically, this concept of actuarial fairness originates in an Aristotelian principle of justice in exchange. We will examine how this principle was formalized in the 16th century and shaped in life insurance during the following (...)
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  50. Self-Control, Decision Theory, and Rationality – New Essays.James D. Grayot - 2020 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (2):184-189.
    Volume 27, Issue 2, June 2020, Page 184-189.
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