On Seidenfeld‘s Criticism of Sophisticated Violations of the Independence Axiom

Theory and Decision 43 (3):279-292 (1997)
An agent who violates independence can avoid dynamic inconsistency in sequential choice if he is sophisticated enough to make use of backward induction in planning. However, Seidenfeld has demonstrated that such a sophisticated agent with dependent preferences is bound to violate the principle of dynamic substitution, according to which admissibility of a plan is preserved under substitution of indifferent options at various choice nodes in the decision tree. Since Seidenfeld considers dynamic substitution to be a coherence condition on dynamic choice, he concludes that sophistication cannot save a violator of independence from incoherence. In response to McClennen’s objection that relying on dynamic substitution when independence is at stake must be question-begging, Seidenfeld undertakes to prove that dynamic substitution follows from the principle of backward induction alone, provided we assume that the agent’s admissible choices from different sets of feasible plans are all based on a fixed underlying preference ordering of plans. This paper shows that Seidenfeld's proof fails: depending on the interpretation, it is either invalid or based on an unacceptable assumption.
Keywords Sequential choice  planning  independence axiom  dynamic inconsistency  sophisticated choice  Seidenfeld, Teddy  McClennen, Ned
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