Making Do Without Expectations

Mind 125 (499):799-827 (2016)
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The Pasadena game invented by Nover and Hájek raises a number of challenges for decision theory. The basic problem is how the game should be evaluated: it has no expectation and hence no well-defined value. Easwaran has shown that the Pasadena game does have a weak expectation, raising the possibility that we can eliminate the value gap by requiring agents to value gambles at their weak expectations. In this paper, I first prove a negative result: there are gambles like the Pasadena game that do not even have a weak expectation. Hence, problematic value gaps remain even if decision theory is extended to take in weak expectations. There is a further challenge: the existence of a ‘value gap’ in the Pasadena game seems to make decision theory inapplicable in a number of cases where the right choice is obvious. The positive contribution of the paper is a theory of ‘relative utilities’, an extension of decision theory that lets us make comparative judgements even among gambles that have no well-defined value.



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Paul Bartha
University of British Columbia

Citations of this work

Surreal Decisions.Eddy Keming Chen & Daniel Rubio - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (1):54-74.
Difference Minimizing Theory.Christopher J. G. Meacham - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6.

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