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  1. Mark Alfano (2012). Wilde Heuristics and Rum Tum Tuggers: Preference Indeterminacy and Instability. Synthese 189 (S1):5-15.
    Models in decision theory and game theory assume that preferences are determinate: for any pair of possible outcomes, a and b, an agent either prefers a to b, prefers b to a, or is indifferent as between a and b. Preferences are also assumed to be stable: provided the agent is fully informed, trivial situational influences will not shift the order of her preferences. Research by behavioral economists suggests, however, that economic and hedonic preferences are to some degree indeterminate and (...)
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  2. Chrisoula Andreou (2007). There Are Preferences and Then There Are Preferences. In Barbara Montero and Mark D. White (ed.), Economics and the Mind.
  3. Chrisoula Andreou (2005). Incommensurable Alternatives and Rational Choice. Ratio 18 (3):249–261.
    I consider the implications of incommensurability for the assumption, in rational choice theory, that a rational agent’s preferences are complete. I argue that, contrary to appearances, the completeness assumption and the existence of incommensurability are compatible. Indeed, reflection on incommensurability suggests that one’s preferences should be complete over even the incommensurable alternatives one faces.
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  4. Horacio Arló-Costa (2005). Models of Preference Reversals and Personal Rules: Do They Require Maximizing a Utility Function with a Specific Structure? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (5):650-651.
    One of the reasons for adopting hyperbolic discounting is to explain preference reversals. Another is that this value structure suggests an elegant theory of the will. I examine the capacity of the theory to solve Newcomb's problem. In addition, I compare Ainslie's account with other procedural theories of choice that seem at least equally capable of accommodating reversals of preference.
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  5. Kenneth J. Arrow (2006). Freedom and Social Choice: Notes in the Margin. Utilitas 18 (1):52-60.
    I comment on Amartya Sen's study of the relations between the analysis of freedom and the theory of social choice. Two of his themes are analysed with regard to their contribution to an analytic understanding of the issues. These are: (1) the multiple interpretations of the concept of ‘preferences’ as a foundation for the formal conceptualizations of social choice and freedom; and (2) some issues in the formalization of freedom as a value to be compared with outcomes. Under (2), I (...)
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  6. Adam Bales, Daniel Cohen & Toby Handfield (2013). Decision Theory for Agents with Incomplete Preferences. Australasian Journal of Philosophy (3):1-18.
    (2014). Decision Theory for Agents with Incomplete Preferences. Australasian Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 92, No. 3, pp. 453-470. doi: 10.1080/00048402.2013.843576.
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  7. F. Ben Abdelaziz, P. Lang & R. Nadeau (1999). Dominance and Efficiency in Multicriteria Decision Under Uncertainty. Theory and Decision 47 (3):191-211.
    This paper proposes several concepts of efficient solutions for multicriteria decision problems under uncertainty. We show how alternative notions of efficiency may be grounded on different decision ‘contexts’, depending on what is known about the Decision Maker's (DM) preference structure and probabilistic anticipations. We define efficient sets arising naturally from polar decision contexts. We investigate these sets from the points of view of their relative inclusions and point out some particular subsets which may be especially relevant to some decision situations.
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  8. Giacomo Bonanno (1988). Can Good News Lead to a More Pessimistic Choice of Action? Theory and Decision 25 (2):123-136.
    Adapting a definition introduced by Milgrom (1981) we say that a signal about the environment is good news relative to some initial beliefs if the posterior beliefs dominate the initial beliefs in the sense of first-order stochastic dominance (the assumption being that higher values of the parameter representing the environment mean better environments). We give an example where good news leads to the adoption of a more pessimistic course of action (we say that action a, reveals greater pessimism than action (...)
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  9. Richard Bradley (2009). Becker's Thesis and Three Models of Preference Change. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 8 (2):223-242.
    This article examines Becker's thesis that the hypothesis that choices maximize expected utility relative to fixed and universal tastes provides a general framework for the explanation of behaviour. Three different models of preference revision are presented and their scope evaluated. The first, the classical conditioning model, explains all changes in preferences in terms of changes in the information held by the agent, holding fundamental beliefs and desires fixed. The second, the Jeffrey conditioning model, explains them in terms of changes in (...)
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  10. Richard Bradley (2008). Preference Kinematics. In Till Grune (ed.), Preference Change: Approaches from Philosophy, Economics and Psychology.
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  11. Richard Bradley (1999). Conditional Desirability. Theory and Decision 47 (1):23-55.
    Conditional attitudes are not the attitudes an agent is disposed to acquire in event of learning that a condition holds. Rather they are the components of agent's current attitudes that derive from the consideration they give to the possibility that the condition is true. Jeffrey's decision theory can be extended to include quantitative representation of the strength of these components. A conditional desirability measure for degrees of conditional desire is proposed and shown to imply that an agent's degrees of conditional (...)
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  12. Lara Buchak (forthcoming). Decision Theory. In Christopher Hitchcock & Alan Hajek (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
  13. Lara Buchak (forthcoming). Risk and Tradeoffs. Erkenntnis:1-27.
    The orthodox theory of instrumental rationality, expected utility (EU) theory, severely restricts the way in which risk-considerations can figure into a rational individual's preferences. It is argued here that this is because EU theory neglects an important component of instrumental rationality. This paper presents a more general theory of decision-making, risk-weighted expected utility (REU) theory, of which expected utility maximization is a special case. According to REU theory, the weight that each outcome gets in decision-making is not the subjective probability (...)
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  14. Juan C. Candeal, Juan R. de Miguel & Esteban Induráin (2002). Expected Utility From Additive Utility on Semigroups. Theory and Decision 53 (1):87-94.
    In the present paper we study the framework of additive utility theory, obtaining new results derived from a concurrence of algebraic and topological techniques. Such techniques lean on the concept of a connected topological totally ordered semigroup. We achieve a general result concerning the existence of continuous and additive utility functions on completely preordered sets endowed with a binary operation ``+'', not necessarily being commutative or associative. In the final part of the paper we get some applications to expected utility (...)
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  15. Ruth Chang (2002). The Possibility of Parity. Ethics 112 (4):659-688.
    This paper argues for the existence of a fourth positive generic value relation that can hold between two items beyond ‘better than’, ‘worse than’, and ‘equally good’: namely ‘on a par’.
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  16. Stephen A. Clark (2000). Revealed Preference and Expected Utility. Theory and Decision 49 (2):159-174.
    This essay gives necessary and sufficient conditions for recovering expected utility from choice behavior in several popular models of uncertainty. In particular, these techniques handle a finite state model; a model for which the choice space consists of probability densities and the expected utility representation requires bounded, measurable utility; and a model for which the choice space consists of Borel probability measures and the expected utility representation requires bounded, continuous utility. The key result is the identification of the continuity condition (...)
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  17. Wesley Cooper (2008). Nozick, Ramsey, and Symbolic Utility. Utilitas 20 (3):301-322.
    I explore a connection between Robert Nozick's account of decision value/symbolic utility in The Nature of Rationality and F. P. Ramsey's discussion of ethically neutral propositions in his 1926 essay , a discussion that Brian Skyrms in Choice and Chance credits with disclosing deeper foundations for expected utility than the celebrated Theory of Games and Economic Behavior of von Neumann and Morgenstern. Ramsey's recognition of ethically non-neutral propositions is essential to his foundational work, and the similarity of these propositions to (...)
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  18. John Craven (1982). Liberalism and Individual Preferences. Theory and Decision 14 (4):351-360.
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  19. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, Reason-Based Rationalization.
    We introduce a “reason-based” way of rationalizing an agent’s choice behaviour, which explains choices by specifying which properties of the options or choice context the agent cares about (the “motivationally salient properties”) and how he or she cares about these properties (the “fundamental preference relation”). Reason-based rationalizations can explain non-classical choice behaviour, including boundedly rational and sophisticated rational behaviour, and predict choices in unobserved contexts, an issue neglected in standard choice theory. We characterize the behavioural implications of different reason-based models (...)
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  20. 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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  21. Franz Dietrich & Christian List (2013). Where Do Preferences Come From? International Journal of Game Theory 42 (3):613-637.
    Rational choice theory analyzes how an agent can rationally act, given his or her preferences, but says little about where those preferences come from. Preferences are usually assumed to be fixed and exogenously given. Building on related work on reasons and rational choice, we describe a framework for conceptualizing preference formation and preference change. In our model, an agent's preferences are based on certain "motivationally salient" properties of the alternatives over which the preferences are held. Preferences may change as new (...)
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  22. Franz Dietrich & Christian List (2011). A Model of Non-Informational Preference Change. Journal of Theoretical Politics 23 (2):145-164.
    According to standard rational choice theory, as commonly used in political science and economics, an agent's fundamental preferences are exogenously fixed, and any preference change over decision options is due to Bayesian information learning. Although elegant and parsimonious, such a model fails to account for preference change driven by experiences or psychological changes distinct from information learning. We develop a model of non-informational preference change. Alternatives are modelled as points in some multidimensional space, only some of whose dimensions play a (...)
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  23. Nathalie Etchart (2002). Adequate Moods for Non-Eu Decision Making in a Sequential Framework. Theory and Decision 52 (1):1-28.
    In a dynamic (sequential) framework, departures from the independence axiom (IND) are reputed to induce violations of dynamic consistency (DC), which may in turn have undesirable normative consequences. This result thus questions the normative acceptability of non expected-utility (non-EU) models, which precisely relax IND. This paper pursues a twofold objective. The main one is to discuss the normative conclusion: usual arguments linking violations of DC to departures from IND are shown to be actually based on specific (but usually remaining implicit) (...)
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  24. Peter C. Fishburn (1970). Utility Theory with Inexact Preferences and Degrees of Preference. Synthese 21 (2):204 - 221.
    a–b* c–d is taken to mean that your degree of preference for a over b is less than your degree of preference for c over d. Various properties of the strength-of-preference comparison relation * are examined along with properties of simple preferences defined from *. The investigation recognizes an individual's limited ability to make precise judgments. Several utility theorems relating a–b * c–d to u(a)–u(b) are included.
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  25. Branden Fitelson & Lara Buchak, Separability Assumptions in Scoring-Rule-Based Arguments for Probabilism.
    - In decision theory, an agent is deciding how to value a gamble that results in different outcomes in different states. Each outcome gets a utility value for the agent.
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  26. Robin Giles (1992). A Generalization of the Theory of Subjective Probability and Expected Utility. Synthese 90 (2):301 - 343.
    A generalization of the usual approach to the expected utility theory is given, with the aim of representing the state of belief of an agent who may decline on grounds of ignorance to express a preference between a given pair of acts and would, therefore, be considered irrational from a Bayesian point of view. Taking state, act, and outcome as primitive concepts, a utility function on the outcomes is constructed in the usual way. Each act is represented by a utility-valued (...)
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  27. Johan E. Gustafsson (2013). Value-Preference Symmetry and Fitting-Attitude Accounts of Value Relations. Philosophical Quarterly 63 (252):476–491.
    Joshua Gert and Wlodek Rabinowicz have developed frameworks for value relations that are rich enough to allow for non-standard value relations such as parity. Yet their frameworks do not allow for any non-standard preference relations. In this paper, I shall defend a symmetry between values and preferences, namely, that for every value relation, there is a corresponding preference relation, and vice versa. I claim that if the arguments that there are non-standard value relations are cogent, these arguments, mutatis mutandis, also (...)
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  28. Johan E. Gustafsson (2013). The Irrelevance of the Diachronic Money-Pump Argument for Acyclicity. Journal of Philosophy 110 (8):460–464.
    The money-pump argument is the standard argument for the acyclicity of rational preferences. The argument purports to show that agents with cyclic preferences are in some possible situations forced to act against their preference. In the usual, diachronic version of the money-pump argument, such agents accept a series of trades that leaves them worse off than before. Two stock objections are (i) that one may get the drift and refuse the trades and (ii) that one may adopt a plan to (...)
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  29. Johan E. Gustafsson (2011). An Extended Framework for Preference Relations. Economics and Philosophy 27 (3):360–367.
    In order to account for non-traditional preference relations the present paper develops a new, richer framework for preference relations. This new framework provides characterizations of non-traditional preference relations, such as incommensurateness and instability, that may hold when neither preference nor indifference do. The new framework models relations with swaps, which are conceived of as transfers from one alternative state to another. The traditional framework analyses dyadic preference relations in terms of a hypothetical choice between the two compared alternatives. The swap (...)
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  30. Johan E. Gustafsson (2011). An Extended Framework for Preference Relations – Erratum. Economics and Philosophy 27 (3):359.
    In order to account for non-traditional preference relations the present paper develops a new, richer framework for preference relations. This new framework provides characterizations of non-traditional preference relations, such as incommensurateness and instability, that may hold when neither preference nor indifference do. The new framework models relations with swaps, which are conceived of as transfers from one alternative state to another. The traditional framework analyses dyadic preference relations in terms of a hypothetical choice between the two compared alternatives. The swap (...)
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  31. Johan E. Gustafsson (2010). A Money-Pump for Acyclic Intransitive Preferences. Dialectica 64 (2):251–257.
    The standard argument for the claim that rational preferences are transitive is the pragmatic money-pump argument. However, a money-pump only exploits agents with cyclic strict preferences. In order to pump agents who violate transitivity but without a cycle of strict preferences, one needs to somehow induce such a cycle. Methods for inducing cycles of strict preferences from non-cyclic violations of transitivity have been proposed in the literature, based either on offering the agent small monetary transaction premiums or on multi-dimensional preferences. (...)
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  32. Johan E. Gustafsson & Nicolas Espinoza (2010). Conflicting Reasons in the Small-Improvement Argument. Philosophical Quarterly 60 (241):754–763.
    The small-improvement argument is usually considered the most powerful argument against comparability, viz the view that for any two alternatives an agent is rationally required either to prefer one of the alternatives to the other or to be indifferent between them. We argue that while there might be reasons to believe each of the premises in the small-improvement argument, there is a conflict between these reasons. As a result, the reasons do not provide support for believing the conjunction of the (...)
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  33. Peter J. Hammond (1988). Orderly Decision Theory. Economics and Philosophy 4 (02):292-.
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  34. William Harper (1988). Decisions, Games and Equilibrium Solutions. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:344 - 362.
    This paper includes a survey of decision theories directed toward exploring the adequacy of alternative approaches for application to game theoretic reasoning, a review of the classic results of von Neumann and Morgenstern and Nash about equilibrium solutions, an account of a recent challenge to the idea that solutions should be equilibria, and, finally, an explicit reconstruction and defense (using the resources of causal decision theory) of the classic indirect argument for equilibrium solutions.
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  35. Marc le Menestrel (2001). A Process Approach to the Utility for Gambling. Theory and Decision 50 (3):249-262.
    This paper argues that any specific utility or disutility for gambling must be excluded from expected utility because such a theory is consequential while a pleasure or displeasure for gambling is a matter of process, not of consequences. A (dis)utility for gambling is modeled as a process utility which monotonically combines with expected utility restricted to consequences. This allows for a process (dis)utility for gambling to be revealed. As an illustration, the model shows how empirical observations in the Allais paradox (...)
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  36. Isaac Levi (2008). Why Rational Agents Should Not Be Liberal Maximizers. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 38 (S1):1-17.
    Hans Herzberger's 1973 essay 'Ordinal Preference and Rational Choice' is a classic milestone in the erosion of the idea that rational agents are maximizers of utility. By the time Herzberger wrote, many authors had replaced this claim with the thesis that rational agents are maximizers of preference. That is to say, it was assumed that at the moment of choice a rational agent has a weak ordering representing his or her preferences among the options available to the agent for choice (...)
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  37. Stefan Linquist & Jordan Bartol (2013). Two Myths About Somatic Markers. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (3):455-484.
    Research on patients with damage to ventromedial frontal cortices suggests a key role for emotions in practical decision making. This field of investigation is often associated with Antonio Damasio’s Somatic Marker Hypothesis—a putative account of the mechanism through which autonomic tags guide decision making in typical individuals. Here we discuss two questionable assumptions—or ‘myths’—surrounding the direction and interpretation of this research. First, it is often assumed that there is a single somatic marker hypothesis. As others have noted, however, Damasio’s ‘hypothesis’ (...)
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  38. Christian List & John Dryzek (2003). Social Choice Theory and Deliberative Democracy: A Reconciliation. British Journal of Political Science 33 (1):1-28.
    The two most influential traditions of contemporary theorizing about democracy, social choice theory and deliberative democracy, are generally thought to be at loggerheads, in that the former demonstrates the impossibility, instability or meaninglessness of the rational collective outcomes sought by the latter. We argue that the two traditions can be reconciled. After expounding the central Arrow and Gibbard-Satterthwaite impossibility results, we reassess their implications, identifying the conditions under which meaningful democratic decision making is possible. We argue that deliberation can promote (...)
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  39. Christian List, Robert C. Luskin, James S. Fishkin & Iain McLean (2013). Deliberation, Single-Peakedness, and the Possibility of Meaningful Democracy: Evidence From Deliberative Polls. Journal of Politics 75 (1):80–95.
    Majority cycling and related social choice paradoxes are often thought to threaten the meaningfulness of democracy. But deliberation can prevent majority cycles – not by inducing unanimity, which is unrealistic, but by bringing preferences closer to single-peakedness. We present the first empirical test of this hypothesis, using data from Deliberative Polls. Comparing preferences before and after deliberation, we find increases in proximity to single-peakedness. The increases are greater for lower versus higher salience issues and for individuals who seem to have (...)
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  40. Fenrong Liu (2010). Von Wright's “the Logic of Preference” Revisited. Synthese 175 (1):69 - 88.
    Preference is a key area where analytic philosophy meets philosophical logic. I start with two related issues: reasons for preference, and changes in preference, first mentioned in von Wright’s book The Logic of Preference but not thoroughly explored there. I show how these two issues can be handled together in one dynamic logical framework, working with structured two-level models, and I investigate the resulting dynamics of reason-based preference in some detail. Next, I study the foundational issue of entanglement between preference (...)
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  41. Duncan Macintosh (1993). Persons and the Satisfaction of Preferences: Problems in the Rational Kinematics of Values. Journal of Philosophy 60 (4):163-180.
    If one can get the targets of one's current wants only by acquiring new wants (as in the Prisoner's Dilemma), is it rational to do so? Arguably not. For this could justify adopting unsatisfiable wants, violating the rational duty to maximize one's utility. Further, why cause a want's target if one will not then want it? And people "are" their wants. So if these change, people will not survive to enjoy their wants' targets. I reply that one rationally need not (...)
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  42. Duncan MacIntosh (1992). Preference-Revision and the Paradoxes of Instrumental Rationality. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 22 (4):503-529.
    To the normal reasons that we think can justify one in preferring something, x (namely, that x has objectively preferable properties, or has properties that one prefers things to have, or that x's obtaining would advance one's preferences), I argue that it can be a justifying reason to prefer x that one's very preferring of x would advance one's preferences. Here, one prefers x not because of the properties of x, but because of the properties of one's having the preference (...)
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  43. Duncan MacIntosh (1991). Preference's Progress: Rational Self-Alteration and the Rationality of Morality. Dialogue 30 (1991):3-32.
    I argue that Gauthier's constrained-maximizer rationality is problematic. But standard Maximizing Rationality means one's preferences are only rational if it would not maximize on them to adopt new ones. In the Prisoner's Dilemma, it maximizes to adopt conditionally cooperative preferences. (These are detailed, with a view to avoiding problems of circularity of definition.) Morality then maximizes. I distinguish the roles played in rational choices and their bases by preferences, dispositions, moral and rational principles, the aim of rational action, and rational (...)
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  44. Per-erik Malmnäs (1994). Axiomatic Justifications of the Utility Principle: A Formal Investigation. Synthese 99 (2):233 - 249.
    It is argued that existing axiomatic theories of utility do not provide the utility principle or the principle of maximising expected utility with a formal justification. It is also argued that these theories only put mild constraints on a decision-maker in a decision-context. Finally, it is argued that the prospects are not particularly bright for finding formal non-circular arguments for the utility principle that do not rely on the law of large numbers.
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  45. Charles F. Manski (2011). Actualist Rationality. Theory and Decision 71 (2):195-210.
    This article concerns the prescriptive function of decision analysis. Consider an agent who must choose an action yielding welfare that varies with an unknown state of nature. It is often asserted that such an agent should adhere to consistency axioms which imply that behavior can be represented as maximization of expected utility. However, our agent is not concerned the consistency of his behavior across hypothetical choice sets. He only wants to make a reasonable choice from the choice set that he (...)
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  46. Alex C. Michalos (1970). Cost-Benefit Versus Expected Utility Acceptance Rules. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1970 (1):375 - 402.
    A rule for the acceptance of scientific hypotheses called 'the principle of cost-benefit dominance' is shown to be more effective and efficient than the well-known principle of the maximization of expected (epistemic) utility. Harvey's defense of his theory of the circulation of blood in animals is examined as a historical paradigm case of a successful defense of a scientific hypothesis and as an implicit application of the cost-benefit dominance rule advocated here. Finally, various concepts of 'dominance' are considered by (...)
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  47. Philippe Mongin (2000). Does Optimization Imply Rationality? Synthese 124 (1-2):73 - 111.
    The relations between rationality and optimization have been widely discussed in the wake of Herbert Simon's work, with the common conclusion that the rationality concept does not imply the optimization principle. The paper is partly concerned with adding evidence for this view, but its main, more challenging objective is to question the converse implication from optimization to rationality, which is accepted even by bounded rationality theorists. We discuss three topics in succession: (1) rationally defensible cyclical choices, (2) the revealed preference (...)
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  48. Klaus Nehring (2000). A Theory of Rational Choice Under Ignorance. Theory and Decision 48 (3):205-240.
    This paper contributes to a theory of rational choice for decision-makers with incomplete preferences due to partial ignorance, whose beliefs are representable as sets of acceptable priors. We focus on the limiting case of `Complete Ignorance' which can be viewed as reduced form of the general case of partial ignorance. Rationality is conceptualized in terms of a `Principle of Preference-Basedness', according to which rational choice should be isomorphic to asserted preference. The main result characterizes axiomatically a new choice-rule called `Simultaneous (...)
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  49. Martin Peterson (2004). Transformative Decision Rules, Permutability, and Non-Sequential Framing of Decision Problems. Synthese 139 (3):387-403.
    The concept of transformative decision rules provides auseful tool for analyzing what is often referred to as the`framing', or `problem specification', or `editing' phase ofdecision making. In the present study we analyze a fundamentalaspect of transformative decision rules, viz. permutability. A setof transformative decision rules is, roughly put, permutable justin case it does not matter in which order the rules are applied.It is argued that in order to be normatively reasonable, sets oftransformative decision rules have to satisfy a number ofstructural (...)
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  50. Martin Peterson (2004). From Outcomes to Acts: A Non-Standard Axiomatization of the Expected Utility Principle. Journal of Philosophical Logic 33 (4):361-378.
    This paper presents an axiomatization of the principle of maximizing expected utility that does not rely on the independence axiom or sure-thing principle. Perhaps more importantly the new axiomatization is based on an ex ante approach, instead of the standard ex post approach. An ex post approach utilizes the decision maker's preferences among risky acts for generating a utility and a probability function, whereas in the ex ante approach a set of preferences among potential outcomes are on the input side (...)
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