Realistic Decision Theory: Rules for Nonideal Agents in Nonideal Circumstances

New York, US: OUP Usa (2004)
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Decision theory aims at a general account of rationality covering humans but to begin makes idealizations about decision problems and agents' resources and circumstances. It treats inerrant agents with unlimited cognitive power facing tractable decision problems. This book systematically rolls back idealizations and without loss of precision treats errant agents with limited cognitive abilities facing decision problems without a stable top option. It recommends choices that maximize utility using quantizations of beliefs and desires in cases where probabilities and utilities are indeterminate and using higher-order utility analysis in cases of limited access to probabilities and utilities. For agents burdened with mistakes, it advocates reasonable attempts to correct unacceptable mistakes before deciding. In decision problems without a stable top option, a topic of game theory, it proposes maximizing self-conditional utility among self-supporting options. In games of strategy, the new principles lead to solutions that are Pareto optimal among equilibria composed of jointly self-supporting strategies. Offering an account of bounded rationality, the bookmakes large strides toward realism in decision theory.



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Paul Weirich
University of Missouri, Columbia

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