Buridan's Ass and Other Dilemmas

The dilemma confronted by Buridan’s Ass leads into a problem about nil-preference situations, to which there is a solution in the literature that is inspired by Alan Turing: we have evolved with a computational module in our brains that comes into play in such situations by picking a random action among the alternatives that detennines the subject’s choice. We relate these Buridan’s Ass situations to a larger, theoretically interesting category in which there is no alternative that is decisively superior to others with respect to expected utility, and we try to show how our emotional makeup figures in a rational response, particularly as informed by symbolic utilitythat we draw down from our culture’s shared understandings. The category is theoretically interesting because it contains moral dilemmas, as well as hard cases in which an imponant choice must be made without an option that has clearly superior expected utility. We argue that our Emotional Response Model is preferable to Turing’s Randomizer for this category, as well as more illuminating about nil-preference situations or close approximations thereto
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