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Practical Reason

Edited by Sergio Tenenbaum (University of Toronto)
Assistant editor: Benjamin Elliott Wald (University of Toronto)
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  1. Paul Anand, Prasanta Pattanaik & Clemens Puppe (eds.) (2009). Handbook of Rational and Social Choice. Oxford University Press.
    This volume provides an overview of issues arising in work on the foundations of decision theory and social choice. The collection will be of particular value to researchers in economics with interests in utility or welfare, but also to any social scientist or philosopher interested in theories of rationality or group decision-making.
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  2. Bradshaw Frederick Armendt (1983). Rational Decision Theory: The Foundations of Causal Decision Theory. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago
    In recent years rational decision theories such as Richard Jeffrey's, which recommend that an agent act so as to maximize his conditional expected utility, have come under attack on the grounds that they are unable to adequately handle certain kinds of decision problems. Because of their general structure, these problems are sometimes known as "causal counterexamples" to the theories; well-known examples are Newcomb's problem, the Prisoner's Dilemma, and Fisher's smoking gene problem. Several versions of "causal decision theory" have been presented (...)
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  3. Frank Arntzenius (2008). No Regrets, Or: Edith Piaf Revamps Decision Theory. [REVIEW] Erkenntnis 68 (2):277-297.
    I argue that standard decision theories, namely causal decision theory and evidential decision theory, both are unsatisfactory. I devise a new decision theory, from which, under certain conditions, standard game theory can be derived.
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  4. Robert Audi (2011). Practical Reasoning and Moral Judgment. Analytica 5:94-111.
    Russian translation of the Chpater 9 of Audi R. Practical Reasoning and Ethical Decision. – London, N. Y., 2006. Translated by Andrei Zavaliy with kind permission of the author.
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  5. Robert Audi (1986). Action Theory as a Resource for Decision Theory. Theory and Decision 20 (3):207-221.
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  6. Robert Audi (1979). Weakness of Will and Practical Judgment. Noûs 13 (2):173-196.
    Weakness of will is a common phenomenon of human experience. But what is it? It has proved highly resistant to analysis, and even the accounts that seem to capture our intuitions about what weakness of will is raise problems about how it is possible. This is because these accounts seem inconsistent with some highly plausible principles about action. My aim here is to propose a new account of weakness of will and its relation to practical judgment, and to explain how (...)
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  7. Michael Bacharach (1987). A Theory of Rational Decision in Games. Erkenntnis 27 (1):17 - 55.
  8. Andrew Bacon (2011). A Paradox for Supertask Decision Makers. Philosophical Studies 153 (2):307.
    I consider two puzzles in which an agent undergoes a sequence of decision problems. In both cases it is possible to respond rationally to any given problem yet it is impossible to respond rationally to every problem in the sequence, even though the choices are independent. In particular, although it might be a requirement of rationality that one must respond in a certain way at each point in the sequence, it seems it cannot be a requirement to respond as such (...)
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  9. Adam Bales, Daniel Cohen & Toby Handfield (2014). Decision Theory for Agents with Incomplete Preferences. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (3):453-70.
    Orthodox decision theory gives no advice to agents who hold two goods to be incommensurate in value because such agents will have incomplete preferences. According to standard treatments, rationality requires complete preferences, so such agents are irrational. Experience shows, however, that incomplete preferences are ubiquitous in ordinary life. In this paper, we aim to do two things: (1) show that there is a good case for revising decision theory so as to allow it to apply non-vacuously to agents with incomplete (...)
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  10. Jonathan Baron (1993). Morality and Rational Choice.
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  11. James E. Bayley (1986). Moral Reasoning and Personal Decision. In Martin Tamny & K. D. Irani (eds.), Rationality in Thought and Action. Greenwood Press 29--19.
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  12. Robert W. Beard (1969). Nicholas Rescher, Ed., The Logic of Decision and Action. [REVIEW] Journal of Value Inquiry 3 (2):159.
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  13. Nathan Berg (2014). The Consistency and Ecological Rationality Approaches to Normative Bounded Rationality. Journal of Economic Methodology 21 (4):375-395.
    This paper focuses on tacit versus explicit uses of plural performance metrics as a primary methodological characteristic. This characteristic usefully distinguishes two schools of normative analysis and their approaches to normative interpretations of bounded rationality. Both schools of thought make normative claims about bounded rationality by comparing the performance of decision procedures using more than one performance metric. The consistency school makes tacit reference to performance metrics outside its primary axiomatic framework, but lexicographically promotes internal axiomatic consistency as the primary, (...)
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  14. Alain Berthoz (2006). Emotion and Reason: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Decision Making. Oxford University Press Uk.
    Decision making is an area of profound importance to a wide range of specialities - for psychologists, economists, lawyers, clinicians, managers, and of course philosophers. Only relatively recently, though, have we begun to really understand how decision making processes are implemented in the brain, and how they might interact with our emotions. 'Emotion and Reason' presents a groundbreaking new approach to understanding decision making processes and their neural bases. The book presents a sweeping survey of the science of decision making. (...)
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  15. Tilmann Betsch & Carsten Held (2012). Rational Decision Making: Balancing RUN and JUMP Modes of Analysis. Mind and Society 11 (1):69-80.
    Rationality in decision making is commonly assessed by comparing choice performance against normative standards. We argue that such a performance-centered approach blurs the distinction between rational choice and adaptive behavior. Instead, rational choice should be assessed with regard to the way individuals make analytic decisions. We suggest that analytic decisions can be made in two different modes in which control processes are directed at different levels. In a RUN mode, thought is directed at controlling the operation of a decision strategy. (...)
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  16. Oliver Board (2006). The Equivalence of Bayes and Causal Rationality in Games. Theory and Decision 61 (1):1-19.
    In a seminal paper, Aumann (1987, Econometrica 55, 1–18) showed how the choices of rational players could be analyzed in a unified state space framework. His innovation was to include the choices of the players in the description of the states, thus abolishing Savage’s (1954, The Foundations of Statistics. Wiley, New York) distinction between acts and consequences. But this simplification comes at a price: Aumann’s notion of Bayes rationality does not allow players to evaluate what would happen were they to (...)
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  17. Giacomo Bonanno (2008). A Syntactic Approach to Rationality in Games with Ordinal Payoffs. In Giacomo Bonanno, Wiebe van der Hoek & Michael Wooldridge (eds.), Logic and the Foundations of Game and Decision Theory. Amsterdam University Press
    We consider strategic-form games with ordinal payoffs and provide a syntactic analysis of common belief/knowledge of rationality, which we define axiomatically. Two axioms are considered. The first says that a player is irrational if she chooses a particular strategy while believing that another strategy is better. We show that common belief of this weak notion of rationality characterizes the iterated deletion of pure strategies that are strictly dominated by pure strategies. The second axiom says that a player is irrational if (...)
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  18. Darren Bradley (2013). Decision Theory, Philosophical Perspectives. In Hal Pashler (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Mind. Sage
    Decision theory is concerned with how agents should act when the consequences of their actions are uncertain. The central principle of contemporary decision theory is that the rational choice is the choice that maximizes subjective expected utility. This entry explains what this means, and discusses the philosophical motivations and consequences of the theory. The entry will consider some of the main problems and paradoxes that decision theory faces, and some of responses that can be given. Finally the entry will briefly (...)
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  19. Berit Brogaard (1999). A Peircean Theory of Decision. Synthese 118 (3):383-401.
    It is sometimes argued that the fact that possession of perfect knowledge about the future is impossible, means that it is impossible for decisions to be rational. This reasoning is fallacious. If rationality is given a new interpretation, then decisions can be considered rational. A theory of decision that has as its basis Peirce’s theory of abduction can provide a new way of understanding decisions as rational processes. The Peircean theory of decision (i) considers decisions as part of a complete (...)
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  20. Jessica Brown (2012). Practial Reasoning, Decision Theory and Anti-Intellectualism. Episteme 9 (1):1-20.
    In this paper, I focus on the most important form of argument for anti-intellectualism, one that exploits alleged connections between knowledge and practical reasoning. I first focus on a form of this argument which exploits a universal principle, Sufficiency, connecting knowledge and practical reasoning. In the face of putative counterexamples to Sufficiency, a number of authors have attempted to reformulate the argument with a weaker principle. However, I argue that the weaker principles suggested are also problematic. I conclude that, so (...)
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  21. Lara Buchak (forthcoming). Decision Theory. In Christopher Hitchcock & Alan Hajek (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy. Oxford University Press
    Decision theory has at its core a set of mathematical theorems that connect rational preferences to functions with certain structural properties. The components of these theorems, as well as their bearing on questions surrounding rationality, can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Philosophy’s current interest in decision theory represents a convergence of two very different lines of thought, one concerned with the question of how one ought to act, and the other concerned with the question of what action consists (...)
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  22. Lara Buchak (2013). Risk and Rationality. OUP Oxford.
    Lara Buchak sets out a new account of rational decision-making in the face of risk. She argues that the orthodox view is too narrow, and suggests an alternative, more permissive theory: one that allows individuals to pay attention to the worst-case or best-case scenario, and vindicates the ordinary decision-maker.
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  23. Andrei A. Buckareff, Elijah Millgram, Practical Induction. Cambridge, MA & London, U.K.: Harvard University Press, 1997. Pp. Viii and 184.
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  24. Sarah Buss (1999). Practical Induction. Philosophical Review 108 (4):571-575.
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  25. James Cargile (1984). Review of Rational Decision and Causality. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 81 (3):163-168.
  26. Fabrizio Cariani, Marc Pauly & Josh Snyder (2008). Decision Framing in Judgment Aggregation. Synthese 163 (1):1 - 24.
    Judgment aggregation problems are language dependent in that they may be framed in different yet equivalent ways. We formalize this dependence via the notion of translation invariance, adopted from the philosophy of science, and we argue for the normative desirability of translation invariance. We characterize the class of translation invariant aggregation functions in the canonical judgment aggregation model, which requires collective judgments to be complete. Since there are reasonable translation invariant aggregation functions, our result can be viewed as a possibility (...)
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  27. Timothy Chappell (2008). Moral Perception. Philosophy 83 (4):421-437.
    I develop an account of moral perception which is able to deal well with familiar naturalistic non-realist complaints about ontological extravagance and ‘queerness’. I show how this account can also ground a cogent response to familiar objections presented by Simon Blackburn (about supervenience) and J.L. Mackie (about motivation). The familiar realist's problem about relativism, however, remains.
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  28. André Chapuis (2003). An Application of Circular Definitions: Rational Decision. In Benedikt Löwe, Thoralf Räsch & Wolfgang Malzkorn (eds.), Foundations of the Formal Sciences Ii. Kluwer 47--54.
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  29. Gavin Terence Colvert (1995). Aquinas on Rationality, Freedom and Deformed Choice. Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
    This dissertation assesses Thomas Aquinas' response to the problem of whether agents can rationally choose to pursue one course of action when they believe another course is better and open to them. The core of the problem lies in the conceptual connection often made between desirability and normative standards of goodness. Given this connection, it is apparently contradictory to claim that a person can rationally choose to do what he or she desires rather than what he or she thinks best, (...)
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  30. Terry Connolly & Jochen Reb (2012). Regret Aversion in Reason-Based Choice. Theory and Decision 73 (1):35-51.
    This research examines the moderating role of regret aversion in reason-based choice. Earlier research has shown that regret aversion and reason-based choice effects are linked through a common emphasis on decision justification, and that a simple manipulation of regret salience can eliminate the decoy effect, a well-known reason-based choice effect. We show here that the effect of regret salience varies in theory-relevant ways from one reason-based choice effect to another. For effects such as the select/reject and decoy effect, both of (...)
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  31. Roger M. Cooke (1982). Risk Assessment and Rational Decision Theory. Dialectica 36 (4):329-351.
    SummaryI contend on both theoretical and historical grounds that quantitative risk assessment is relevant for policy determination only as a cost estimate. In particular, it provides a method for estimating the costs of a hypothetical insurance policy against the potential liabilities associated with a given course of action. It is not relevant to the question of rational choice under risk.RésuméJe montre, en partant d'arguments aussi bien théoriques qu'historiques, que le calcul quanti‐tatif des risques n'aide à la détermination (...)
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  32. Jana L. Craft (2013). A Review of the Empirical Ethical Decision-Making Literature: 2004–2011. [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 117 (2):221-259.
    This review summarizes the research on ethical decision-making from 2004 to 2011. Eighty-four articles were published during this period, resulting in 357 findings. Individual findings are categorized by their application to individual variables, organizational variables, or the concept of moral intensity as developed by Jones :366–395, 1991). Rest’s four-step model for ethical decision-making is used to summarize findings by dependent variable—awareness, intent, judgment, and behavior. A discussion of findings in each category is provided in order to uncover trends in the (...)
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  33. Virgílio Afonso da Silva (2011). Comparing the Incommensurable: Constitutional Principles, Balancing and Rational Decision. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 31 (2):273-301.
    Balancing implies a comparison among goods, values, principles and rights that cannot be ranked on a single scale of measurement, ie there is no unequivocal measuring unit applicable to all of them. In such situations, it is common to state that one has to compare incommensurable things. Indeed, this issue has been mentioned by several authors as a strong reason in favour of abandoning balancing (and proportionality) as a rational form of judicial argumentation and decision-making. My article aims at arguing (...)
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  34. Steven DeLay (forthcoming). The Toiling Lily: Narrative Life, Responsibility, and the Ontological Ground of Self-Deception. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-14.
    In this essay, I argue that genuine responsibility and ethical self-understanding are possible without narrative—or, at least, that narrative is not always sufficient. In §2, I introduce and clarify a distinction between our ontological subjectivity and everyday practical identity—one made famous by Heidegger and Sartre. On the basis of this distinction, in §3 I argue that narrative is unable to ground ethical choice and decision. For, although acting in light of practical identities is something we do, it (...)
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  35. Julien Deonna, Christine Clavien & Ivo Wallimann-Helmer, Affective Intentionality and Practical Rationality.
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  36. Tom Dougherty (2015). Future-Bias and Practical Reason. Philosophers' Imprint 15 (30).
    Nearly everyone prefers pain to be in the past rather than the future. This seems like a rationally permissible preference. But I argue that appearances are misleading, and that future-biased preferences are in fact irrational. My argument appeals to trade-offs between hedonic experiences and other goods. I argue that we are rationally required to adopt an exchange rate between a hedonic experience and another type of good that stays fixed, regardless of whether the hedonic experience is in the past or (...)
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  37. Igor Douven (2011). Decision Theory and Rationality, José Luis Bermúdez. Oxford University Press, 2009. 189 Pages. [REVIEW] Economics and Philosophy 27 (1):59-64.
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  38. N. G. E. (1947). Judicial Decision and Practical Judgment. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 44 (2):51-52.
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  39. Anna-Maria A. Eder (2011). Decision Theory and Rationality. [REVIEW] International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 24 (3):326-329.
  40. Ellery Eells (1982). Rational Decision and Causality. Cambridge University Press.
    In past years, the traditional Bayesian theory of rational decision making, based on subjective calculations of expected utility, has faced powerful attack from philosophers such as David Lewis and Brian Skyrms, who advance an alternative causal decision theory. The test they present for the Bayesian is exemplified in the decision problem known as 'Newcomb's paradox' and in related decision problems and is held to support the prescriptions of the causal theory. As well as his conclusions, the concepts and methods of (...)
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  41. Jon Elster (1983). Sour Grapes: Studies in the Subversion of Rationality. Editions De La Maison des Sciences De L'Homme.
    Sour Grapes aims to subvert orthodox theories of rational choice through the study of forms of irrationality. Dr Elster begins with an analysis of the notation of rationality, to provide the background and terms for the subsequent discussions, which cover irrational behaviour, irrational desires and irrational belief. These essays continue and complement the arguments of Jon Elster's earlier book, Ulysses and the Sirens. That was published to wide acclaim, and Dr Elster shows the same versatility here in drawing on philosophy, (...)
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  42. Stephen Engstrom (2009). The Form of Practical Knowledge: A Study of the Categorical Imperative. Harvard University Press.
    Introduction -- Part I: Willing as practical knowing -- The will and practical judgment -- Fundamental practical judgments : the wish for happiness -- Part II: From presuppositions of judgment to the idea of a categorical imperative -- The formal presuppositions of practical judgment -- Constraints on willing -- Part III: Interpretation -- The categorical imperative -- Applications -- Conclusion.
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  43. Stephen P. Engstrom (2009). IV. The Formal Presuppositions of Practical Judgment. In The Form of Practical Knowledge: A Study of the Categorical Imperative. Harvard University Press 97-128.
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  44. K. Fine & Nicholas Rescher (1970). The Logic of Decision and Action. Philosophical Quarterly 20 (80):287.
    The four main essays in this volume investigate new sectors of the theory of decision, preference, act-characteristics, and action analysis. Herbert A. Simon applies tools developed in the theory of decision-making to the logic of action, and thereby develops a novel concept of heuristic power. Adapting ideas from utility and decision theory, Nicholas Rescher proposes a logic of preference by which conflicting theories proposed by G. H. von Wright, R. M. Chisholm, and others can be systematized. Donald Davidson discusses difficulties (...)
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  45. Haim Gaifman (1999). Self-Reference and the Acyclicity of Rational Choice. Annals of Pure and Applied Logic 96 (1-3):117-140.
    Self-reference in semantics, which leads to well-known paradoxes, is a thoroughly researched subject. The phenomenon can appear also in decision theoretic situations. There is a structural analogy between the two and, more interestingly, an analogy between principles concerning truth and those concerning rationality. The former can serve as a guide for clarifying the latter. Both the analogies and the disanalogies are illuminating.
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  46. Morris Gall (1947). Judicial Decision and Practical Judgment. Journal of Philosophy 44 (2):51-52.
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  47. Jie Gao (forthcoming). Rational Action Without Knowledge (and Vice Versa). Synthese:1-17.
    It has been argued recently that knowledge is the norm of practical reasoning. This norm can be formulated as a bi-conditional: it is appropriate to treat p as a reason for acting if and only if you know that p. Other proposals replace knowledge with warranted or justified belief. This paper gives counter-examples of both directions of any such bi-conditional. To the left-to-right direction: scientists can appropriately treat as reasons for action propositions of a theory they believe to be (...)
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  48. Peter Gärdenfors & Nils-Eric Sahlin (eds.) (1988). Decision, Probability, and Utility. Cambridge University Press.
    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 (...)
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  49. José Gaxiola (2008). Cogniton, Rationality and Decision. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 33:67-73.
    Rational decision making are independent of the order of implementation of the rationales, but; how they were created? In this paper I focus on decision making mechanism as interaccion of several elements that cognitive sciencies identify and explain why we choice and take certain decisions. The version that the mind is innate it is include. As well the idea that evolutionary justifications are criticable. Present new version of rational choice, action and making decision.
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  50. Joshua Gert (2004). Brute Rationality: Normativity and Human Action. Cambridge University Press.
    Joshua Gert presents a new account of normative practical reasons and the way in which they contribute to the rationality of action. He argues that, rather than simply "counting in favor of" action, normative reasons play two logically distinct roles--that of requiring action and that of justifying action. Gert's book will appeal to a range of readers interested in practical reasoning in particular, and moral theory more generally.
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