Synthese 198 (2):1177-1199 (2019)

When we are faced with a choice among acts, but are uncertain about the true state of the world, we may be uncertain about the acts’ “choiceworthiness”. Decision theories guide our choice by making normative claims about how we should respond to this uncertainty. If we are unsure which decision theory is correct, however, we may remain unsure of what we ought to do. Given this decision-theoretic uncertainty, meta-theories attempt to resolve the conflicts between our decision theories...but we may be unsure which meta-theory is correct as well. This reasoning can launch a regress of ever-higher-order uncertainty, which may leave one forever uncertain about what one ought to do. There is, fortunately, a class of circumstances under which this regress is not a problem. If one holds a cardinal understanding of subjective choiceworthiness, and accepts certain other criteria, one’s hierarchy of metanormative uncertainty ultimately converges to precise definitions of “subjective choiceworthiness” for any finite set of acts. If one allows the metanormative regress to extend to the transfinite ordinals, the convergence criteria can be weakened further. Finally, the structure of these results applies straightforwardly not just to decision-theoretic uncertainty, but also to other varieties of normative uncertainty, such as moral uncertainty.
Keywords Normative uncertainty  Decision-theoretic theory  Moral uncertainty  Decision theory  Uncertaintism  Regress problem
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-019-02098-9
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