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Decision Theory

Edited by Rachael Briggs (Australian National University)
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  1. A. (1992). Risk and Public Decision-Making. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 7 (2):53-56.
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  2. A. Abatemarco (2010). A Physicist's Approach to Phase Controlling Chaotic Economic Models / F. T. Arecchi, R. Meucci, F. Salvadori, D. Acampora, K. Al Naimee ; Part V: Related Issues: A Note on Complaints and Deprivation. [REVIEW] In Marisa Faggini, Concetto Paolo Vinci, Antonio Abatemarco, Rossella Aiello, F. T. Arecchi, Lucio Biggiero, Giovanna Bimonte, Sergio Bruno, Carl Chiarella, Maria Pia Di Gregorio, Giacomo Di Tollo, Simone Giansante, Jaime Gil Aluja, A. I͡U Khrennikov, Marianna Lyra, Riccardo Meucci, Guglielmo Monaco, Giancarlo Nota, Serena Sordi, Pietro Terna, Kumaraswamy Velupillai & Alessandro Vercelli (eds.), Decision Theory and Choices: A Complexity Approach. Springer Verlag Italia.
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  3. Diedrik Aerts & Sven Aerts (1995). Applications of Quantum Statistics in Psychological Studies of Decision Processes. Foundations of Science 1 (1):85-97.
    We present a new approach to the old problem of how to incorporate the role of the observer in statistics. We show classical probability theory to be inadequate for this task and take refuge in the epsilon-model, which is the only model known to us caapble of handling situations between quantum and classical statistics. An example is worked out and some problems are discussed as to the new viewpoint that emanates from our approach.
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  4. Paul Anand (2008). Rationality and Intransitive Preference. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 22:5-15.
    “Radical The paper provides a survey of arguments for claims that rational agents should have transitive preferences and argues that they are not valid. The presentation is based on a chapter for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Rational and Social Choice.
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  5. Paul Anand (2005). Bayes's Theorem (Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol. 113), Edited by Richard Swinburne, Oxford University Press, 2002, 160 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 21 (1):139-142.
  6. F. T. Arecchi (2010). Part I: General Issues: Coherence, Complexity and Creativity: The Dynamics of Decision Making. In Marisa Faggini, Concetto Paolo Vinci, Antonio Abatemarco, Rossella Aiello, F. T. Arecchi, Lucio Biggiero, Giovanna Bimonte, Sergio Bruno, Carl Chiarella, Maria Pia Di Gregorio, Giacomo Di Tollo, Simone Giansante, Jaime Gil Aluja, A. I͡U Khrennikov, Marianna Lyra, Riccardo Meucci, Guglielmo Monaco, Giancarlo Nota, Serena Sordi, Pietro Terna, Kumaraswamy Velupillai & Alessandro Vercelli (eds.), Decision Theory and Choices: A Complexity Approach. Springer Verlag Italia.
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  7. J. L. Bermudez (2013). Prisoner's Dilemma and Newcomb's Problem: Why Lewis's Argument Fails. Analysis 73 (3):423-429.
    According to David Lewis, the prisoner's dilemma (PD) and Newcomb's problem (NP) are really just one dilemma in two different forms (Lewis 1979). Lewis's argument for this conclusion is ingenious and has been widely accepted. However, it is flawed. As this paper shows, the considerations that Lewis brings to bear to show that the game he starts with is an NP equally show that the game is not a PD.
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  8. Gregor Betz (2010). What’s the Worst Case? The Methodology of Possibilistic Prediction. Analyse and Kritik 32 (1):87-106.
    Frank Knight (1921) famously distinguished the epistemic modes of certainty, risk, and uncertainty in order to characterize situations where deterministic, probabilistic or possibilistic foreknowledge is available. Because our probabilistic knowledge is limited, i.e. because many systems, e.g. the global climate, cannot be described and predicted probabilistically in a reliable way, Knight's third category, possibilistic foreknowledge, is not simply swept by the probabilistic mode. This raises the question how to justify possibilistic predictionsincluding the identication of the worst case. The development of (...)
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  9. Aditi Bhattacharyya, Prasanta K. Pattanaik & Yongsheng Xu (2011). Choice, Internal Consistency and Rationality. Economics and Philosophy 27 (2):123-149.
  10. L. Biggiero (2010). Exploration Modes and its Impact on Industry Profitability. In Marisa Faggini, Concetto Paolo Vinci, Antonio Abatemarco, Rossella Aiello, F. T. Arecchi, Lucio Biggiero, Giovanna Bimonte, Sergio Bruno, Carl Chiarella, Maria Pia Di Gregorio, Giacomo Di Tollo, Simone Giansante, Jaime Gil Aluja, A. I͡U Khrennikov, Marianna Lyra, Riccardo Meucci, Guglielmo Monaco, Giancarlo Nota, Serena Sordi, Pietro Terna, Kumaraswamy Velupillai & Alessandro Vercelli (eds.), Decision Theory and Choices: A Complexity Approach. Springer Verlag Italia. 83--115.
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  11. G. Bimonte (2010). Predictability of SOC Systems. Technological Extreme Events. In Marisa Faggini, Concetto Paolo Vinci, Antonio Abatemarco, Rossella Aiello, F. T. Arecchi, Lucio Biggiero, Giovanna Bimonte, Sergio Bruno, Carl Chiarella, Maria Pia Di Gregorio, Giacomo Di Tollo, Simone Giansante, Jaime Gil Aluja, A. I͡U Khrennikov, Marianna Lyra, Riccardo Meucci, Guglielmo Monaco, Giancarlo Nota, Serena Sordi, Pietro Terna, Kumaraswamy Velupillai & Alessandro Vercelli (eds.), Decision Theory and Choices: A Complexity Approach. Springer Verlag Italia. 221--234.
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  12. Luc Bovens & Marc Fleurbaey (2012). Evaluating Life or Death Prospects. Economics and Philosophy 28 (2):217-249.
    We consider a special set of risky prospects in which the outcomes are either life or death (or, more generally, binary utilities). There are various alternatives to the utilitarian objective of minimizing the expected loss of lives in such prospects. We start off with the two-person case with independent risks and construct taxonomies of ex ante and ex post evaluations for such prospects. We examine the relationship between the ex ante and the ex post in this restrictive framework: There are (...)
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  13. Marco Castellani (2013). Alfred Schutz and Herbert Simon: Can Their Action Theories Work Together? Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 43 (4):383-404.
    This paper combines Alfred Shultz and Herbert Simon's theories of action in order to understand the grey area between dynamic and completely unstructured decision making better. As a result I have put together a specific scheme of how choice elements are represented from an agent's personal experience, so as to create a bridge between the phenomenological and cognitive-procedural approaches of decision making. I first look at the key points of their original models relating Alfred Schutz's “provinces of meaning” and Herbert (...)
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  14. Mikaël Cozic (2011). Non-Bayesian Decision Theory. Beliefs and Desires as Reasons for Action, Martin Peterson. Theory and Decision Library, Springer, 2008. Ix + 170 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 27 (1):53-59.
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  15. Donald Davidson (1957). Decision Making. Stanford, Calif.,Stanford University Press.
    PREVIOUS WORK Theoretical discussion of the interval measurement of utility based upon theories of decision making under conditions of risk has been voluminous and will not be reviewed here. Those interested will find extensive ...
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  16. John Davis & Wade Hands (2013). Introduction: Methodology, Systemic Risk, and the Economics Profession. Journal of Economic Methodology 20 (1):1 - 5.
    (2013). Introduction: Methodology, systemic risk, and the economics profession. Journal of Economic Methodology: Vol. 20, Methodology, Systemic Risk, and the Economics Profession, pp. 1-5. doi: 10.1080/1350178X.2013.774842.
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  17. Jelle de Boer (2012). A Strawson–Lewis Defence of Social Preferences. Economics and Philosophy 28 (3):291-310.
    This paper examines a special kind of social preference, namely a preference to do one's part in a mixed-motive setting because the other party expects one to do so. I understand this expectation-based preference as a basic reactive attitude (Strawson 1974). Given this, and the fact that expectations in these circumstances are likely to be based on other people's preferences, I argue that in cooperation a special kind of equilibrium ensues, which I call a loop, with people's preferences and expectations (...)
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  18. Marisa Faggini, Concetto Paolo Vinci, Antonio Abatemarco, Rossella Aiello, F. T. Arecchi, Lucio Biggiero, Giovanna Bimonte, Sergio Bruno, Carl Chiarella, Maria Pia Di Gregorio, Giacomo Di Tollo, Simone Giansante, Jaime Gil Aluja, A. I͡U Khrennikov, Marianna Lyra, Riccardo Meucci, Guglielmo Monaco, Giancarlo Nota, Serena Sordi, Pietro Terna, Kumaraswamy Velupillai & Alessandro Vercelli (eds.) (2010). Decision Theory and Choices: A Complexity Approach. Springer Verlag Italia.
    The New Economic Windows Series, derived from Massimo Salzano's ideas and work, incorporates material from textbooks, monographs and conference proceedings that deals with both the theoretical and applied aspects of various sub-disciplines ...
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  19. J. Gil-Aluja, A. M. Gil-Lafuente & J. Gil-Lafuente (2010). Financial Fragility and Interacting Units: An Exercise / C. Chiarella, S. Giansante, S. Sordi, A. Vercelli ; Part III: Techniques and Tools: Using Homogeneous Groupings in Portfolio Management. [REVIEW] In Marisa Faggini, Concetto Paolo Vinci, Antonio Abatemarco, Rossella Aiello, F. T. Arecchi, Lucio Biggiero, Giovanna Bimonte, Sergio Bruno, Carl Chiarella, Maria Pia Di Gregorio, Giacomo Di Tollo, Simone Giansante, Jaime Gil Aluja, A. I͡U Khrennikov, Marianna Lyra, Riccardo Meucci, Guglielmo Monaco, Giancarlo Nota, Serena Sordi, Pietro Terna, Kumaraswamy Velupillai & Alessandro Vercelli (eds.), Decision Theory and Choices: A Complexity Approach. Springer Verlag Italia.
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  20. Itzhak Gilboa, Andrew Postlewaite & David Schmeidler (2009). Is It Always Rational to Satisfy Savage's Axioms? Economics and Philosophy 25 (3):285-296.
    This note argues that, under some circumstances, it is more rational not to behave in accordance with a Bayesian prior than to do so. The starting point is that in the absence of information, choosing a prior is arbitrary. If the prior is to have meaningful implications, it is more rational to admit that one does not have sufficient information to generate a prior than to pretend that one does. This suggests a view of rationality that requires a compromise between (...)
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  21. Natalie Gold & Christian List (2004). Framing as Path Dependence. Economics and Philosophy 20 (2):253-277.
    A framing effect occurs when an agent's choices are not invariant under changes in the way a decision problem is presented, e.g. changes in the way options are described (violation of description invariance) or preferences are elicited (violation of procedure invariance). Here we identify those rationality violations that underlie framing effects. We attribute to the agent a sequential decision process in which a “target” proposition and several “background” propositions are considered. We suggest that the agent exhibits a framing effect if (...)
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  22. Michael A. Goodrich, Wynn C. Stirling & Erwin R. Boer (2000). Satisficing Revisited. Minds and Machines 10 (1):79-109.
    In the debate between simple inference heuristics and complex decision mechanisms, we take a position squarely in the middle. A decision making process that extends to both naturalistic and novel settings should extend beyond the confines of this debate; both simple heuristics and complex mechanisms are cognitive skills adapted to and appropriate for some circumstances but not for others. Rather than ask `Which skill is better?'' it is often more important to ask `When is a skill justified?'' The selection and (...)
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  23. Benoit Hardy-Vallee (2007). Decision-Making: A Neuroeconomic Perspective. Philosophy Compass 2 (6):939-953.
    This article introduces and discusses from a philosophical point of view the nascent field of neuroeconomics, which is the study of neural mechanisms involved in decision-making and their economic significance. Following a survey of the ways in which decision-making is usually construed in philosophy, economics and psychology, I review many important findings in neuroeconomics to show that they suggest a revised picture of decision-making and ourselves as choosing agents. Finally, I outline a neuroeconomic account of irrationality.
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  24. D. W. Haslett (1990). What is Utility? Economics and Philosophy 6 (01):65-.
    Social scientists could learn some useful things from philosophy. Here I shall discuss what I take to be one such thing: a better understanding of the concept of utility. There are several reasons why a better understanding may be useful. First, this concept is commonly found in the writings of social scientists, especially economists (see, for example, Sen and Williams, 1982). Second, utility is the main ingredient in utilitarianism, a perspective on morality that, traditionally, has been very influential among social (...)
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  25. Keith Lehrer (1987). Science, Morality and the Prisoner's Dilemma. Grazer Philosophische Studien 30:65-76.
    The problems that I address concern the morality and rationality of decisions with respect to the application and practice of science. Formally, the situation is a standard decision theoretic one in which one has a set of alternatives and a set of outcomes. The standard solution is to maximize expected utility. This formal simplicity conceals considerable philosophical complexity. The most obvious is — whose expected utility should we maximize? The second is — are there any moral constraints on what utility (...)
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  26. Keith Lehrer & Vann McGee (1991). An Epistemic Principle Which Solves Newcomb's Paradox. Grazer Philosophische Studien 40:197-217.
    If it is certain that performing an observation to determine whether P is true will in no way influence whether P is tme, then the proposition that the observation is performed ought to be probabilistically independent of P. Applying the notion of "observation" liberally, so that a wide variety of actions are treated as observations, this proposed new principle of belief revision yields the result that simple utihty maximization gives the correct solution to the Fisher smoking paradox and the two-box (...)
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  27. Christian List & Franz Dietrich, Mentalism Versus Behaviourism in Economics: A Philosophy-of-Science Perspective.
    Behaviourism is the view that preferences, beliefs, and other mental states in social-scientific theories are nothing but constructs re-describing people's behavioural dispositions. Mentalism is the view that they capture real phenomena, no less existent than the unobservable entities and properties in the natural sciences, such as electrons and electromagnetic fields. While behaviourism has long gone out of fashion in psychology and linguistics, it remains influential in economics, especially in `revealed preference' theory. We aim to (i) clear up some common confusions (...)
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  28. Pierre Livet (2006). Identities, Capabilities and Revisions. Journal of Economic Methodology 13 (3):327-348.
    The compatibility between freedom as possibility of change and continuity of personal identity is questionable. Change implies revisions. The tension between ensuring continuity of choice and evaluating a situation of choice that has been changed by these very revisions can be overcome by putting certain conditions on epistemic revision and preference revision. These conditions define a procedure leading to what I call a ?justified path of revision and action?. I will examine several examples in order to show how this procedure (...)
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  29. Adam Morton (1992). Book Reviews. [REVIEW] Mind 101 (402):381-383.
    review of McLennen's *Rationality and Dynamic Choice*. The topic is important and the discussion is powerful. Some connection with modelling and simulation would be valuable.
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  30. Gregory Mougin & Elliott Sober (1994). Betting Against Pascal's Wager. Noûs 28 (3):382-395.
    Only one traditional objection to Pascal's wager is telling: Pascal assumes a particular theology, but without justification. We produce two new objections that go deeper. We show that even if Pascal's theology is assumed to be probable, Pascal's argument does not go through. In addition, we describe a wager that Pascal never considered, which leads away from Pascal's conclusion. We then consider the impact of these considerations on other prudential arguments concerning what one should believe, and on the more general (...)
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  31. Ruth Weintraub (2012). What Can We Learn From Buridan's Ass? Canadian Journal of Philosophy 42 (3):281-301.
    The mythical1 hungry ass, facing two identical bundles of hay equidistant from him, has engendered two related questions. Can he choose one of the bundles, there seemingly being nothing to incline him one way or the other? If he can, the second puzzle — pertaining to rational choice — arises. It seems the ass cannot rationally choose one of the bundles, because there is no sufficient reason for any choice.2In what follows, I will argue that choice is possible even when (...)
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Decision-Theoretic Frameworks
  1. Frank Arntzenius, No Regrets.
    I argue that standard decision theories, namely causal decision theory and evidential decision theory, are incoherent. I devise a new decision theory, from which standard game theory will follow as a corollary.
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  2. Gustaf Arrhenius & Wlodek Rabinowicz (2005). Value and Unacceptable Risk. Economics and Philosophy 21 (2):177-197.
    Consider a transitive value ordering of outcomes and lotteries on outcomes, which satisfies substitutivity of equivalents and obeys “continuity for easy cases,” i.e., allows compensating risks of small losses by chances of small improvements. Temkin (2001) has argued that such an ordering must also – rather counter-intuitively – allow chances of small improvements to compensate risks of huge losses. In this paper, we show that Temkin's argument is flawed but that a better proof is possible. However, it is more difficult (...)
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  3. Magnus Boman (1999). Norms in Artificial Decision Making. Artificial Intelligence and Law 7 (1):17-35.
    A method for forcing norms onto individual agents in a multi-agent system is presented. The agents under study are supersoft agents: autonomous artificial agents programmed to represent and evaluate vague and imprecise information. Agents are further assumed to act in accordance with advice obtained from a normative decision module, with which they can communicate. Norms act as global constraints on the evaluations performed in the decision module and hence no action that violates a norm will be suggested to any agent. (...)
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  4. Franz Dietrich, How to Reach Legitimate Decisions When the Procedure is Controversial.
    Imagine a group that faces a decision problem but does not agree on which decision procedure is appropriate. In that case, can a decision be reached that respects the procedural concerns of the group? There is a sense in which legitimate decisions are possible even if people disagree on which procedure to use. I propose to decide in favour of an option which maximizes the number of persons whose judged-right procedure happens to entail this decision given the profile. This decision (...)
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  5. Franz Dietrich & Christian List (2013). A Reason-Based Theory of Rational Choice. Noûs 47 (1):104-134.
    There is a surprising disconnect between formal rational choice theory and philosophical work on reasons. The one is silent on the role of reasons in rational choices, the other rarely engages with the formal models of decision problems used by social scientists. To bridge this gap, we propose a new, reason-based theory of rational choice. At its core is an account of preference formation, according to which an agent’s preferences are determined by his or her motivating reasons, together with a (...)
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  6. Alan Hájek & Harris Nover (2006). Perplexing Expectations. Mind 115 (459):703 - 720.
    This paper revisits the Pasadena game (Nover and Háyek 2004), a St Petersburg-like game whose expectation is undefined. We discuss serveral respects in which the Pasadena game is even more troublesome for decision theory than the St Petersburg game. Colyvan (2006) argues that the decision problem of whether or not to play the Pasadena game is ‘ill-posed’. He goes on to advocate a ‘pluralism’ regarding decision rules, which embraces dominance reasoning as well as maximizing expected utility. We rebut Colyvan’s argument, (...)
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  7. Gary Malinas (1993). Reflective Coherence and Newcomb Problems: A Simple Solution. Theory and Decision 35 (2):151-166.
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  8. Howard Margolis (2000). Simple Heuristics That Make Us Dumb. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23 (5):758-758.
    The simple heuristics that may indeed usually make us smart–or at least smart enough–in contexts of individual choice will sometimes make us dumb, especially in contexts of social choice. Here each individual choice (or vote) has little impact on the overall choice, although the overall choice is compounded out of the individual choices. I use an example (risk aversion) to illustrate the point.
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  9. Alastair Norcross (1998). Great Harms From Small Benefits Grow: How Death Can Be Outweighed by Headaches. Analysis 58 (2):152–158.
    Suppose that a very large number of people, say one billion, will suffer a moderately severe headache for the next twenty-four hours. For these billion people, the next twenty-four hours will be fairly unpleasant, though by no means unbearable. However, there will be no side-effects from these headaches; no drop in productivity in the work-place, no lapses in concentration leading to accidents, no unkind words spoken to loved ones that will later fester. Nonetheless, it is clearly desirable that these billion (...)
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  10. Nassim N. Taleb & Avital Pilpel (2007). Epistemology and Risk Management. Risk and Regulation 13:6--7.
Causal Decision Theory
  1. A. Ahmed (2013). Causal Decision Theory: A Counterexample. Philosophical Review 122 (2):289-306.
    The essay presents a novel counterexample to Causal Decision Theory (CDT). Its interest is that it generates a case in which CDT violates the very principles that motivated it in the first place. The essay argues that the objection applies to all extant formulations of CDT and that the only way out for that theory is a modification of it that entails incompatibilism. The essay invites the reader to find this consequence of CDT a reason to reject it.
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  2. Arif Ahmed, A Quantum Mechanical Argument Against Causal Decision Theory.
    The paper argues that on three out of five possible hypotheses about the Stern-Gerlach experiment we can construct novel and comparatively realistic decision problems on which (a) Causal decision Theory and Evidential Decision Theory conflict (b) Causal Decision Theory and Quantum Mechanics conflict. It concludes that Causal Decision Theory is false.
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  3. Arif Ahmed, Causal Decision Theory is False.
    Causal Decision Theory (CDT) cares only about the effects of a contemplated act, not its causes. The paper constructs a case in which CDT consequently recommends a bet that the agent is certain to lose, rather than a bet that she is certain to win. CDT is plainly giving wrong advice in this case. It therefore stands refuted.
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  4. Arif Ahmed, Smokers and Psychos: Egan Cases Don't Work.
    Andy Egan's Smoking Lesion and Psycho Button cases are supposed to be counterexamples to Causal Decision Theory. This paper argues that they are not: more precisely, it argues that if CDT makes the right call in Newcomb's problem then it makes the right call in Egan cases too.
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  5. Arif Ahmed (forthcoming). Causal Decision Theory and the Fixity of the Past. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axt021.
    Causal decision theory (CDT) cares only about the effects of a contemplated act, not its causes. The article constructs a case in which CDT consequently recommends a bet that the agent is certain to lose, rather than a bet that she is certain to win. CDT is plainly giving wrong advice in this case. It therefore stands refuted. 1 The Argument2 The Argument in More Detail2.1 The betting mechanism2.2 Soft determinism2.3 The content of P 2.4 The argument again3 The Descriptive (...)
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  6. Arif Ahmed (2012). Push the Button. Philosophy of Science 79 (3):386-395.
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  7. Arif Ahmed (2010). Causation and Decision. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 110 (2pt2):111-131.
    Sophisticated ‘tickle’-style defences of Evidential Decision Theory take your motivational state to screen off your act from any state that is causally independent of it, thus ensuring that EDT and CDT converge. That leads to unacceptable instability in cases in which the correct action is obvious. We need a more liberal conception of what the agent controls. It follows that an ordinary deliberator should sometimes consider the past and not only the future to be subject to her present choice.
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  8. Arif Ahmed & Huw Price (2012). Arntzenius on 'Why Ain'cha Rich?'. Erkenntnis 77 (1):15-30.
    The best-known argument for Evidential Decision Theory (EDT) is the ‘Why ain’cha rich?’ challenge to rival Causal Decision Theory (CDT). The basis for this challenge is that in Newcomb-like situations, acts that conform to EDT may be known in advance to have the better return than acts that conform to CDT. Frank Arntzenius has recently proposed an ingenious counter argument, based on an example in which, he claims, it is predictable in advance that acts that conform to EDT will do (...)
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  9. M. Albert (2007). The Propensity Theory: A Decision-Theoretic Restatement. Synthese 156 (3):587 - 603.
    Probability theory is important because of its relevance for decision making, which also means: its relevance for the single case. The propensity theory of objective probability, which addresses the single case, is subject to two problems: Humphreys’ problem of inverse probabilities and the problem of the reference class. The paper solves both problems by restating the propensity theory using (an objectivist version of) Pearl’s approach to causality and probability, and by applying a decision-theoretic perspective. Contrary to a widely held view, (...)
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