Theory choice can be approached in at least four ways. One of these calls for the application of decision theory, and this article endorses this approach. But applying standard forms of decision theory imposes an overly demanding standard of numeric information, supposedly satisfied by point-valued utility and probability functions. To ameliorate this difficulty, a version of decision theory that requires merely comparative utilities and plausibilities is proposed. After a brief summary of this alternative, the article illustrates how comparative decision theory affords a rational reconstruction of decisions made by exemplary scientists in two cases of theory choice: Buffon’s law and the luminiferous ether. It also offers a rational reconstruction of two cases of theory diagnosis: Mendeleev’s anomalies and the Pioneer anomaly.
Keywords theory choice  decision theory  probability  plausibility  utility  information
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2013.04.004
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A Mathematical Theory of Communication.Claude E. Shannon - 1948 - Bell System Technical Journal 27:379–423.
Reflections on My Critics.Ts Khn - 1970 - In Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press.

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