Utility and framing

Synthese 176 (1):83 - 103 (2010)
Standard principles of rational decision assume that an option's utility is both comprehensive and accessible. These features constrain interpretations of an option's utility. This essay presents a way of understanding utility and laws of utility. It explains the relation between an option's utility and its outcome's utility and argues that an option's utility is relative to a specification of the option. Utility's relativity explains how a decision problem's framing affects an option's utility and its rationality even for an agent who is cognitively perfect and lacks only empirical information. The essay rewrites standard laws of utility to accommodate relativization to propositions' specifications. The new laws are generalizations of the standard laws and yield them as special cases.
Keywords Decision frame  Direct reference  Expected utility  Proposition  Rationality  Utility
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David Lewis (1979). Attitudes de Dicto and de Se. Philosophical Review 88 (4):513-543.

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