In this paper I show that Elga’s argument for a restricted principle of indifference for self-locating belief relies on the kind of mistaken reasoning that recommends the ‘staying’ strategy in the Monty Hall problem.
Kuhn argued that scientific theory choice is, in some sense, a rational matter, but one that is not fully determined by shared objective scientific virtues like accuracy, simplicity, and scope. Okasha imports Arrow’s impossibility theorem into the context of theory choice to show that rather than not fully determining theory choice, these virtues cannot determine it at all. If Okasha is right, then there is no function (satisfying certain desirable conditions) from ‘preference’ rankings supplied by scientific virtues over competing theories (...) (or models, or hypotheses) to a single all-things-considered ranking. This threatens the rationality of science. In this paper we show that if Kuhn’s claims about the role that subjective elements play in theory choice are taken seriously, then the threat dissolves. (shrink)
In the wake of 9/11 and the assessment of Iraq's WMD, several inquiries placed the blame primarily on the Intelligence Community. Part of the reform that followed was a codification of analytic tradecraft standards into Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 203 and the appointment of an analytic ombudsman in the newly created Office of the Director of National Intelligence charged with monitoring the quality of analytic products from across the intelligence community. In this paper we identify three assumptions behind ICD203: (1) (...) tradecraft standards can be employed consistently; (2) tradecraft standards sufficiently capture the key elements of good reasoning; (3) good reasoning leads to more accurate judgments. We then report on two controlled experiments that uncover operational constraints in the reliable application of the ICD203 criteria for the assessment of intelligence products. Despite criticisms of the post-9/11 and post-Iraq reform, our results highlight that ICD203, properly applied, holds potential to improve precision and accountability of intelligence processes and products. (shrink)
Gender-neutral bathrooms are usually framed as an accommodation for trans and other gender-nonconforming individuals. In this paper, we show that the benefits of gender-neutral bathrooms are much broader. First, our simulations show that gender-neutral bathrooms reduce average waiting times: while waiting times for women go down invariably, waiting times for men either go down or slightly increase depending on usage intensity, occupancy-time differentials and the presence of urinals. Second, our result can be turned on its head: firms have an opportunity (...) to reduce the number of facilities and cut costs by making them all gender-neutral without increasing waiting times. These observations can be used to reframe the gender-neutral bathrooms debate so that they appeal to a larger constituency, cutting across the usual dividing lines in the ‘bathroom wars’. Finally, there are improved designs and behavioural strategies that can help overcome resistance. We explore what strategies can be invoked to mitigate the objections that gender-neutral bathrooms (1) are unsafe, (2) elicit discomfort and (3) are unhygienic. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Okasha imports Arrow’s impossibility theorem into the context of theory choice. He shows that there is no function (satisfying certain desirable conditions) from profiles of preference rankings over competing theories, models or hypotheses provided by scientific virtues to a single all-things-considered ranking. This is a prima facie threat to the rationality of theory choice. In this paper we show this threat relies on an all-or-nothing understanding of scientific rationality and articulate instead a notion of rationality by (...) degrees. The move from all-or-nothing rationality to rationality by degrees will allow us to argue that theory choice can be rational enough. (shrink)
Background. The events of 9/11 and the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction precipitated fundamental changes within the US Intelligence Community. As part of the reform, analytic tradecraft standards were revised and codified into a policy document – Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 203 – and an analytic ombudsman was appointed in the newly created Office for the Director of National Intelligence to ensure compliance across the intelligence community. In this paper we investigate (...) the untested assumption that the ICD203 criteria can facilitate reliable evaluations of analytic products. Method. Fifteen independent raters used a rubric based on the ICD203 criteria to assess the quality of reasoning of 64 analytical reports generated in response to hypothetical intelligence problems. We calculated the intra-class correlation coefficients for single and group-aggregated assessments. Results. Despite general training and rater calibration, the reliability of individual assessments was poor. However, aggregate ratings showed good to excellent reliability. Conclusions. Given that real problems will be more difficult and complex than our hypothetical case studies, we advise that groups of at least three raters are required to obtain reliable quality control procedures for intelligence products. Our study sets limits on assessment reliability and provides a basis for further evaluation of the predictive validity of intelligence reports generated in compliance with the tradecraft standards. (shrink)
This thesis addresses several questions regarding what rational agents ought to believe and how they ought to act. In the first part I begin by discussing how scientists contemplating several mutually exclusive theories, models or hypotheses can reach a rational decision regarding which one to endorse. In response to a recent argument that they cannot, I employ the tools of social choice theory to offer a ‘possibility result’ for rational theory choice. Then I utilize the tools of judgment aggregation to (...) investigate how scientists from across fields can pool their expertise together. I identify an impossibility result threatening such a procedure and prove a possibility result which requires that some scientists sometimes waive their expertise over some propositions. In the second part I first discuss the existing justifications for a restricted principle of indifference that mandates that two agents whose experiences are subjectively indistinguishable should be indifferent with respect to their identities. I argue that all existing justifications rely on the same mistaken reasoning behind the ‘staying’ strategy in the Monty Hall problem. Secondly, I show this mistake is more widespread and I identify it in arguments purporting to show the failure of two reflection-like principles. In the third part I look at a recent argument that fair policy makers face a dilemma when trying to correct a biased distributive process. I show the dilemma only holds if the correction has to happen in one-shot. Finally, I look at how we ought to design public restrooms so that we reduce the discrimination faced by minority groups. I make the case for opening our public restrooms to all genders. (shrink)
McKenzie Alexander presents a dilemma for a social planner who wants to correct the unfair distribution of an indivisible good between two equally worthy individuals or groups: either she guarantees a fair outcome, or she follows a fair procedure (but not both). In this paper I show that this dilemma only holds if the social planner can redistribute the good in question at most once. To wit, the bias of the initial distribution always washes out when we allow for sufficiently (...) many redistributions. (shrink)