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Profile: Arif Ahmed (Cambridge University)
  1.  12
    Arif Ahmed (2014). Evidence, Decision and Causality. Cambridge University Press.
    Most philosophers agree that causal knowledge is essential to decision-making: agents should choose from the available options those that probably cause the outcomes that they want. This book argues against this theory and in favour of evidential or Bayesian decision theory, which emphasises the symptomatic value of options over their causal role. It examines a variety of settings, including economic theory, quantum mechanics and philosophical thought-experiments, where causal knowledge seems to make a practical difference. The arguments make novel use of (...)
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  2. Arif Ahmed & Adam Caulton (2014). Causal Decision Theory and EPR Correlations. Synthese 191 (18):4315-4352.
    The paper argues that on three out of eight possible hypotheses about the EPR experiment we can construct novel and realistic decision problems on which (a) Causal Decision Theory and Evidential Decision Theory conflict (b) Causal Decision Theory and the EPR statistics conflict. We infer that anyone who fully accepts any of these three hypotheses has strong reasons to reject Causal Decision Theory. Finally, we extend the original construction to show that anyone who gives any of the three hypotheses any (...)
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  3. Arif Ahmed (2011). Walters on Conjunction Conditionalization. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (1pt1):115-122.
    This discussion note examines a recent argument for the principle that any counterfactual with true components is itself true. That argument rests upon two widely accepted principles of counterfactual logic to which the paper presents counterexamples. The conclusion speculates briefly upon the wider lessons that philosophers should draw from these examples for the semantics of counterfactuals.
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  4. Arif Ahmed (2014). Causal Decision Theory and the Fixity of the Past. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (4):665-685.
    Causal decision theory (CDT) cares only about the effects of a contemplated act, not its causes. The article constructs a case in which CDT consequently recommends a bet that the agent is certain to lose, rather than a bet that she is certain to win. CDT is plainly giving wrong advice in this case. It therefore stands refuted. 1 The Argument2 The Argument in More Detail2.1 The betting mechanism2.2 Soft determinism2.3 The content of P 2.4 The argument again3 The Descriptive (...)
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  5.  81
    Arif Ahmed (2015). Hume and the Independent Witnesses. Mind 124 (496):1013-1044.
    The Humean argument concerning miracles says that one should always think it more likely that anyone who testifies to a miracle is lying or deluded than that the alleged miracle actually occurred, and so should always reject any single report of it. A longstanding and widely accepted objection is that even if this is right, the concurring and non-collusive testimony of many witnesses should make it rational to believe in whatever miracle they all report. I argue that on the contrary, (...)
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  6.  6
    Arif Ahmed (forthcoming). Exploiting Cyclic Preference. Mind:fzv218.
    Probably many people have cyclic preferences: they prefer A to B, B to C and C to A for some objects of choice A, B and C. Recent work has resurrected the objection to cyclic preference that agents possessing them are open to exploitation by means of ‘money pumps’. The paper briefly reviews this work and proposes a general approach to problems of sequential choice that makes cyclic preference immune to exploitation by means of these new mechanisms.
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  7. Arif Ahmed (2012). Push the Button. Philosophy of Science 79 (3):386-395.
    Opponents of Causal Decision Theory (CDT) sometimes claim (i) that it gives the wrong advice in Egan-style cases, where the CDT-endorsed act brings news that it causes a bad outcome; (ii) that CDT gives the right advice in Newcomb cases, where it is known in advance that the CDT-act causes you to be richer than the alternative. This paper argues that (i) and (ii) cannot both be true if rational preference over acts is transitive.
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  8. Arif Ahmed & Huw Price (2012). Arntzenius on 'Why Ain'cha Rich?'. Erkenntnis 77 (1):15-30.
    The best-known argument for Evidential Decision Theory (EDT) is the ‘Why ain’cha rich?’ challenge to rival Causal Decision Theory (CDT). The basis for this challenge is that in Newcomb-like situations, acts that conform to EDT may be known in advance to have the better return than acts that conform to CDT. Frank Arntzenius has recently proposed an ingenious counter argument, based on an example in which, he claims, it is predictable in advance that acts that conform to EDT will do (...)
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  9.  80
    Arif Ahmed (2014). Dicing with Death. Analysis 74 (4):587-592.
    You should rather play hide-and-seek against someone who cannot predict where you hide than against someone who can, as the article illustrates in connection with a high-stakes example. Causal Decision Theory denies this. So Causal Decision Theory is false.
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  10.  94
    Arif Ahmed (2015). Infallibility in the Newcomb Problem. Erkenntnis 80 (2):261-273.
    It is intuitively attractive to think that it makes a difference in Newcomb’s problem whether or not the predictor is infallible, in the sense of being certainly actually correct. This paper argues that that view is irrational and manifests a well-documented cognitive illusion.
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  11. Arif Ahmed (2005). Evidential Decision Theory and Medical Newcomb Problems. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (2):191-198.
    has offered evidential decision theorists a defence against the charge that they make unintuitive recommendations for cases like Newcomb's Problem. He says that when conditional probabilities are assessed from the agent's point of view, evidential decision theory makes the same recommendation as intuition. I argue that calculating the probabilities in Price's way leads to no recommendation. It condemns the agent to perpetual oscillation between different options. Price's Argument Instability Objections Conclusion.
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  12.  88
    Arif Ahmed (2013). From Game Theoretical Accounts of Cooperation to Meta-Ethical Choices. Studies in Christian Ethics 26 (2):176-183.
    This paper argues briefly that game theory in general, and evolutionary game theory in particular, are (1) ethically neutral (2) theologically irrelevant. By ‘game theory’ I mean the abstract mathematical theory of interacting agents that are ‘rational’ in the sense of the von Neumann-Morgenstern axioms. By ‘evolutionary game theory’ I mean the attempt to explain observed features of actual populations on an interpretation of game theory that equates utility with evolutionary fitness.
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  13. Arif Ahmed, Smokers and Psychos: Egan Cases Don't Work.
    Andy Egan's Smoking Lesion and Psycho Button cases are supposed to be counterexamples to Causal Decision Theory. This paper argues that they are not: more precisely, it argues that if CDT makes the right call in Newcomb's problem then it makes the right call in Egan cases too.
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  14. Arif Ahmed (2000). Hale on Some Arguments for the Necessity of Necessity. Mind 109 (433):81-91.
    The paper argues against Bob Hale's (1999) argument that enquirers must regard some truths as necessary truths. Hale's argument against Quinean skepticism. like many similar arguments due to McFetridge, Wright and others, involves a quantifier shift fallacy.
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  15. Arif Ahmed (2010). Causation and Decision. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 110 (2pt2):111-131.
    Sophisticated ‘tickle’-style defences of Evidential Decision Theory take your motivational state to screen off your act from any state that is causally independent of it, thus ensuring that EDT and CDT converge. That leads to unacceptable instability in cases in which the correct action is obvious. We need a more liberal conception of what the agent controls. It follows that an ordinary deliberator should sometimes consider the past and not only the future to be subject to her present choice.
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  16.  9
    Arif Ahmed (2007). Agency and Causation. In Huw Price & Richard Corry (eds.), Causation, Physics, and the Constitution of Reality: Russell's Republic Revisited. Oxford University Press
    The paper distinguishes versions of the 'Agency theory of causation' and defends some of them against the charge of circularity.
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  17.  62
    Arif Ahmed (2008). W.V. Quine. In C. J. Misak (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of American Philosophy. Oxford University Press 290-338.
    The paper summarizes the main points of Quine's epistemology and philosophy of language: empiricism, holism, semantic behaviourism, inscrutability of reference, indterminacy of translation and the rejection of analyticity.
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  18.  5
    Arif Ahmed (2010). Deductive Inference and Aspect Perception. In Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press
    Deductive inference seems to reveal semantic connections between their premise(s) and conclusion that were there all along. This looks inconsistent with Wittgenstein's later views on meaning. The paper argues that W's treatment of aspects suggests a Wittgensteinian treatment of deduction that accommodates the troublesome phenomenon without conceding its force.
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  19.  11
    Arif Ahmed (2007). Saul Kripke. Bloomsbury.
    Saul Kripke is one of the most important and original post-war analytic philosophers. His work has undeniably had a profound impact on the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. Yet his ideas are amongst the most challenging frequently encountered by students of philosophy. In this informative and accessible book, Arif Ahmed provides a clear and thorough account of Kripke's philosophy, his major works and ideas, providing an ideal guide to the important and complex thought of this key philosopher. (...)
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  20. Arif Ahmed (ed.) (2010). Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press.
    Published in 1953, Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations had a deeply unsettling effect upon our most basic philosophical ideas concerning thought, sensation, and language. Its claim that philosophical questions of meaning necessitate a close analysis of the way we use language continues to influence Anglo-American philosophy today. However, its compressed and dialogic prose is not always easy to follow. This collection of essays deepens but also challenges our understanding of the work's major themes, such as the connection between meaning and use, the (...)
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  21.  2
    Arif Ahmed (ed.) (2013). Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press.
    Published in 1953, Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations had a deeply unsettling effect upon our most basic philosophical ideas concerning thought, sensation and language. Its claim that philosophical questions of meaning necessitate a close analysis of the way we use language continues to influence Anglo-American philosophy today. However, its compressed and dialogic prose is not always easy to follow. This collection of essays deepens but also challenges our understanding of the work's major themes, such as the connection between meaning and use, the (...)
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