Can free evidence be bad? Value of informationfor the imprecise probabilist

Philosophy of Science 83 (1):1-28 (2016)
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This paper considers a puzzling conflict between two positions that are each compelling: it is irrational for an agent to pay to avoid `free' evidence before making a decision, and rational agents may have imprecise beliefs and/or desires. Indeed, we show that Good's theorem concerning the invariable choice-worthiness of free evidence does not generalise to the imprecise realm, given the plausible existing decision theories for handling imprecision. A key ingredient in the analysis, and a potential source of controversy, is the general approach taken for resolving sequential decision problems { we make explicit what the key alternatives are and defend our own approach. Furthermore, we endorse a resolution of the aforementioned puzzle { we privilege decision theories that merely permit avoiding free evidence over decision theories for which avoiding free evidence is uniquely admissible. Finally, we situate this particular result about free evidence within the broader `dynamic-coherence' literature.



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Author Profiles

Seamus Bradley
London School of Economics (PhD)
Katie Steele
Australian National University

Citations of this work

Rational Polarization.Kevin Dorst - 2023 - Philosophical Review 132 (3):355-458.
Risk aversion and elite‐group ignorance.David Kinney & Liam Kofi Bright - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 106 (1):35-57.
Imprecise Probabilities.Seamus Bradley - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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References found in this work

The Foundations of Statistics.Leonard J. Savage - 1954 - Synthese 11 (1):86-89.
The Dynamics of Rational Deliberation.Brian Skyrms - 1990 - Harvard University Press.
Reason and the grain of belief.Scott Sturgeon - 2008 - Noûs 42 (1):139–165.
On indeterminate probabilities.Isaac Levi - 1974 - Journal of Philosophy 71 (13):391-418.

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