Decision theory and the theory of rational choice have recently been the subjects of considerable research by philosophers and economists. However, no adequate anthology exists which can be used to introduce students to the field. This volume is designed to meet that need. The essays included are organized into five parts covering the foundations of decision theory, the conceptualization of probability and utility, pholosophical difficulties with the rules of rationality and with the assessment of probability, and causal decision theory. The (...) editors provide an extensive introduction to the field and introductions to each part. (shrink)
In a recent, thought-provoking paper Adam Elga argues against unsharp – e.g., indeterminate, fuzzy and unreliable – probabilities. Rationality demands sharpness, he contends, and this means that decision theories like Levi's, Gärdenfors and Sahlin's, and Kyburg's, though they employ different decision rules, face a common, and serious, problem. This article defends the rule to maximize minimum expected utility against Elga's objection.
F. P. Ramsey was a remarkably creative and subtle philosopher who in the briefest of academic careers made significant contributions to logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of language and decision theory. His few published papers reveal him to be a figure or comparable importance to Russell, Carnap and Wittgenstein in the history of analytical philosophy. This book was the first critical study of Ramsey's work, offering a thorough exposition and interpretation of his ideas, setting the ideas in their historical context, (...) and assessing their significance for contemporary research. The study is intended to complement the reissue of Ramsey's papers edited by Professor Hugh Mellor. (shrink)
The hypothesis that human reasoning and decision-making can be roughly modeled by Expected Utility Theory has been at the core of decision science. Accumulating evidence has led researchers to modify the hypothesis. One of the latest additions to the field is Dual Process theory, which attempts to explain variance between participants and tasks when it comes to deviations from Expected Utility Theory. It is argued that Dual Process theories at this point cannot replace previous theories, since they, among other things, (...) lack a firm conceptual framework, and have no means of producing independent evidence for their case. (shrink)
This paper presents a decision theory which allows subjects to account for the uncertainties of their probability estimates. This is accomplished by modelling beliefs about states of nature by means of a class of probability measures. In order to represent uncertainties of those beliefs a measure of epistemic reliability is introduced. The suggested decision theory is evaluated in the light of empirical evidence on ambiguity and uncertainty in decision making. The theory is also compared to Tversky & Kahneman's prospect theory.
A key question for evidence-based medicine is how best to model the way in which EBM should‘[integrate] individual clinical expertise and the best external evidence’. We argue that the formulations and models available in the literature today are modest variations on a common theme and face very similar problems when it comes to risk analysis, which is here understood as a decision procedure comprising a factual assessment of risk, the risk assessment, and the decision what to do based on this (...) assessment, the risk management. Both the early and updated models of evidence-based clinical decisions presented in the writings of Haynes, Devereaux and Guyatt assume that EBM consists of, among other things, evidence from clinical research together with information about patients’ values and clinical expertise. On this A-view, EBM describes all that goes on in a specific justifiable medical decision. There is, however, an alternative interpretation of EBM, the B-view, in which EBM describes just one component of the decision situation and in which, together with other types of evidence, EBM leads to a justifiable clincial decision but does not describe the decision itself. This B-view is inspired by a 100-years older version of EBM, a Swedish standard requiring medical decision-making, professional risk-taking and practice to be in accordance with‘science and proven experience’. In the paper, we outline how the Swedish concept leads to an improved understanding of the way in which scientific evidence and clinical experience can and cannot be integrated in light of EBM. How scientific evidence and clinical experience is integrated influences both the way we do risk assessment and risk management. In addition, the paper sketches the as yet unexplored historical background to VBE and EBM. (shrink)
Second or higher order probabilities have commonly been viewed with scepticism by those working within the realm of probability and decision theory. The aim of the present note is to show how the notion of second order probabilities can add to our understanding of judgmental and decision processes and how the traditional framework of Bayesian decision theory can be extended in a fruitful way by taking such entities into account. Section one consists of a brief account of arguments put forth (...) against higher order probabilities as well as of counterarguments. In order to provide an example of the applicability of second order probabilities a decision theory encompassing such probabilities will be presented in section two. In section three I will try to emphasize the value of second order probabilities for a deeper and more complete understanding of the notion of risk. (shrink)
The paper is concerned with the existence of objective uncertainties. What would it take for objective uncertainties to exist, and what would be the consequences for our understanding of the world we live in? We approach these questions by considering two common theories on how we are to understand the being of propensities and how it pertains to possible outcomes that remain unmanifested. It is argued that both or these theories should be rejected, and be replaced with a theory we (...) call unrestricted actualism according to which the possible outcomes of propensities are denizens of the actual world. (shrink)
The paper discusses the pros and cons of inductive research methods. It is argued that, despite the profusion of good arguments against this scientific strategy, it is frequently employed, for example in psychology. A case probe taken from the realm of cognitive psychology is used as an illustration.
Recently the importance of addressing values in discussions of risk perception and adaptation to climate change has become manifest. Values-based approaches to climate change adaptation and the cultural cognition thesis both illustrate this trend. We argue that in the wake of this development it is necessary to take the dynamic relationship between values and beliefs seriously, to acknowledge the possibility of bi-directional relationships between values and beliefs, and to address the variety of values involved. The dynamic relationship between values and (...) beliefs, we claim, highlights the need to bring ethical considerations to bear on climate change communication. In particular, we must ask whether it is acceptable to tailor information about the risks of climate change in an effort to maximize communicative effectiveness given the values of the target group. (shrink)
The importance, legitimacy and role of second-order probabilities are discussed. Two descriptive models of the use of second-order probabilities in decisions are presented. The results of two empirical studies of the effects of second-order probabilities upon the rank orderings of bets are summarized briefly. The bets were of three basic types and involved a wide variety of first- and second-order probabilities as subjectively assessed by the subjects. Support was obtained for the assumption that the majority of subjects make use of (...) the one model or the other. It is suggested that greater attention should be paid to second-order probabilities, both from a normative and descriptive standpoint. (shrink)
BACKGROUND: Representing is about theories and theory formation. Philosophy of science has a long-standing interest in representing. At least since Ian Hacking's modern classic Representing and Intervening analytical philosophers have struggled to combine that interest with a study of the roles of intervention studies. With few exceptions this focus of philosophy of science has been on physics and other natural sciences. In particular, there have been few attempts to analyse the use of the notion of intervention in other disciplines where (...) intervention studies are important, such as in nursing research. One unintended consequence of this is that the relations between representing and intervening tend to be less understood outside the natural sciences. OBJECTIVES AND DESIGN: This article highlights a number of possible topics on which nursing science and analytic philosophy of science can fruitfully interact. The basic idea is simple. Building on a characterisation of interventions in terms of what is intervened on and with respect to what, we suggest that interventions in nursing research typically are a blend of varieties belonging to the three dimensions of agency, epistemology, and ontology. The details of the blend determine the relation of the particular intervention study to traditional representational categories such as inductivism and hypothetico-deductive method, and have a bearing on its explanatory power and other more theory independent features of research as well. The framework we suggest should be relevant for nurse researchers who want to adopt a more general and analytically entrenched perspective on representing and intervening than the methodological boundaries in nursing research typically allow. (shrink)
The paper discusses the concept of explanation in metaphysics. Different types of explanation are identified and explored. Scientific explanation is compared with metaphysical explanation. The comparison illustrates the difficulties with applying the concept of explanation in metaphysics.
Normative ethics usually presupposes background accounts of human agency, and although different ethical theorists might have different pictures of human agency in mind, there is still something like a standard account that most of mainstream normative ethics can be understood to rest on. Ethical theorists tend to have Rational Man, or at least some close relative to him, in mind when constructing normative theories. It will be argued here that empirical findings raise doubts about the accuracy of this kind of (...) account; human beings fall too far short of ideals of rationality for it to be meaningful to devise normative ideals within such a framework. Instead, it is suggested, normative ethics could be conducted more profitably if the idea of unifying all ethical concerns into one theoretical account is abandoned. This disunity of ethical theorizing would then match the disunited and heuristic-oriented nature of our agency. (shrink)
A method is presented for collecting data which yield a scale on which the entities are ranked in preference and all combinations of value distances are ranked. The method is based on the concept of secondary preference, i.e. preference among preferences. This method is compared with a classical method based on 50–50 game comparison. Two empirical studies are presented. The first examines whether both methods yield the same ordering of value distances. The second involves empirical derivation of a higher-ordered metric (...) scale. (shrink)
A key question for evidence-based medicine is how best to model the way in which EBM should “[integrate] individual clinical expertise and the best external evidence”. We argue that the formulations and models available in the literature today are modest variations on a common theme and face very similar problems. For example, both the early and updated models of evidence-based clinical decisions presented in Haynes, Devereaux and Guyatt assume that EBM consists of, among other things, evidence from clinical research and (...) clinical expertise. On this A-view, EBM describes all that goes on in a specific justifiable medical decision. There is, however, an alternative interpretation of EBM, the B-view, in which EBM describes just one component of the decision situation and in which, together with other types of evidence, EBM leads to a justifiable clincial decision but does not describe the decision itself. This B-view is inspired by a 100-years older version of EBM, a Swedish standard requiring medical decision-making and practice to be in accordance with ‘science and proven experience’. In the paper we outline how the Swedish concept leads to an improved understanding of the way in which scientific evidence and clinical experience can and cannot be integrated in light of EBM. In addition the paper sketches the as yet unexplored historical background to EBM. (shrink)
The role of mothers in prenatal research has been discussed extensively. Significantly less work has been done on the father’s role. In this article, focusing on ethical issues, we seek to redress this imbalance. Examining the father’s position in research conducted on pregnant women, we ask whether or not paternal consent ought to be required in addition to that of the pregnant woman. Having distinguished between different concepts of father and mother, we proceed by giving an overview of the reasons (...) for requiring consent of the woman who is carrying the child. We then examine which of these reasons apply to the biological father, and show that some of them are relevant to the father. The case, roughly speaking, revolves around privacy issues, the father’s future legal responsibilities, and the likelihood that he will care about the health and wellbeing of his future child. These factors in the decision problem should all be recognized, as should the fact that they can in principle be trumped by other considerations. (shrink)
In medical research, it is not unusual that risks are ruled out without any specification the exact risk that was ruled out. This makes it difficult to balance expected health benefits and risk of harm when choosing between alternative treatment options. International guidelines for reporting medical research results are sufficiently specific when it comes to establishing health benefits. However, there is a lack of standards for reporting on ruling out risks. We argue that transparency is needed, as in the case (...) of non-inferiority trials. The Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statements should be revised accordingly. (shrink)
Early career scientists sometimes observe senior scientists engage in apparent scientific misconduct, but feel powerless to intervene, lest they imperil their careers. We propose a Secure Reporting Procedure that both protects them, when pursuing those concerns, and treats the senior scientists fairly. The proposed procedure is, we argue, consistent with the ethical principles of the scientific community, as expressed in the codes of its professional organizations. However, its implementation will require changes in procedures and regulations. Those efforts will be a (...) small price to pay for protecting the scientific community’s integrity and fidelity to its principles. We begin by describing the circumstances motivating the proposal, then sketch its design, and, finally, illustrate next steps in its application in two national settings. (shrink)
We all know that Ramsey argued that the best way to understand how the theoretical entities of a theory function is to picture them as existentially bound variables. If the entities of our theory are a, ß, and y, the best way to write our theory, he tells us, is: 3 a,ß,γ . The theory’s ‘Ramsey sentence’, the existentially bound variables are the carriers of ontological commitment. If the Ramsey sentence is true, they tell us what there is.