It is frequently claimed that the human mind is organized in a modular fashion, a hypothesis linked historically, though not inevitably, to the claim that many aspects of the human mind are innately specified. A specific instance of this line of thought is the proposal of an innately specified geometric module for human reorientation. From a massive modularity position, the reorientation module would be one of a large number that organized the mind. From the core knowledge position, the reorientation module (...) is one of five innate and encapsulated modules that can later be supplemented by use of human language. In this paper, we marshall five lines of evidence that cast doubt on the geometric module hypothesis, unfolded in a series of reasons: (1) Language does not play a necessary role in the integration of feature and geometric cues, although it can be helpful. (2) A model of reorientation requires flexibility to explain variable phenomena. (3) Experience matters over short and long periods. (4) Features are used for true reorientation. (5) The nature of geometric information is not as yet clearly specified. In the final section, we review recent theoretical approaches to the known reorientation phenomena. (shrink)
Thelen et al. criticize “spatial coding” approaches to the A-not-B error. However, newer thinking about spatial coding provides more precise analytic categories and recognizes that different spatial coding systems normally coexist. Theorizing about spatial coding is largely compatible with dynamic-systems theory, augmenting it with an analysis of what one means when discussing “location at A” (or B).
In their development of causal decision theory, Allan Gibbard and William Harper advocate a particular method for calculating the expected utility of an action, a method based upon the probabilities of certain counterfactuals. Gibbard and Harper then employ their method to support a two-box solution to Newcomb’s paradox. This paper argues against some of Gibbard and Harper’s key claims concerning the truth-values and probabilities of counterfactuals involved in expected utility calculations, thereby disputing their analysis of Newcomb’s Paradox. If we are (...) right, then Gibbard and Harper’s method of calculating expected utility does not adequately represent rational choice. (shrink)
A fully adequate solution to Newcomb’s Problem (Nozick 1969) should reveal the source of its extraordinary elusiveness and persis- tent intractability. Recently, a few accounts have independently sought to meet this criterion of adequacy by exposing the underlying source of the problem’s profound puzzlement. Thus, Sorensen (1987), Slezak (1998), Priest (2002) and Maitzen and Wilson (2003) share the ‘no box’ view according to which the very idea that there is a right choice is mis- conceived since the problem is ill-formed (...) or incoherent in some way. Among proponents of this view, Richard Jeffrey (2004) recently declared that he renounces his earlier position that accepted Newcomb problems as genuine decision problems. Significantly, Jeffrey suggests that “New- comb problems are like Escher’s famous staircase on which an unbroken ascent takes you back where you started” (Jeffrey (2004; 113). Jeffrey’s analogy is apt for a puzzle whose specific logical features can be pre- cisely articulated. Along the lines of these related approaches, I propose to improve and clarify them by providing such a deeper analysis that elucidates their essential, related insights. (shrink)
In Newcomb’s paradox you can choose to receive either the contents of a particular closed box, or the contents of both that closed box and another one. Before you choose though, an antagonist uses a prediction algorithm to accurately deduce your choice, and uses that deduction to fill the two boxes. The way they do this guarantees that you made the wrong choice. Newcomb’s paradox is that game theory’s expected utility and dominance principles appear to provide conflicting recommendations for what (...) you should choose. Here we show that the conflicting recommendations assume different probabilistic structures relating your choice and the algorithm’s prediction. This resolves the paradox: the reason there appears to be two conflicting recommendations is that the probabilistic structure relating the problem’s random variables is open to two, conflicting interpretations. We then show that the accuracy of the prediction algorithm in Newcomb’s paradox, the focus of much previous work, is irrelevant. We end by showing that Newcomb’s paradox is time-reversal invariant; both the paradox and its resolution are unchanged if the algorithm makes its ‘prediction’ after you make your choice rather than before. (shrink)
Among various cases that equally admit of evidentialist reasoning, the supposedly evidentialist solution has varying degrees of intuitive attractiveness. I suggest that cooperative reasoning may account for the appeal of apparently evidentialist behavior in the cases in which it is intuitively attractive, while the inapplicability of cooperative reasoning may account for the unattractiveness of evidentialist behaviour in other cases. A collective causal power with respect to agreed outcomes, not evidentialist reasoning, makes cooperation attractive in the Prisoners' Dilemma. And a natural (...) though unwarranted assumption of such a power may account for the intuitive appeal of the one-box response in Newcomb's Problem. (shrink)
Newcomb’s problem is a decision puzzle whose difficulty and interest stem from the fact that the possible outcomes are probabilistically dependent on, yet causally independent of, the agent’s options. The problem is named for its inventor, the physicist William Newcomb, but first appeared in print in a 1969 paper by Robert Nozick . Closely related to, though less well-known than, the Prisoners’ Dilemma, it has been the subject of intense debate in the philosophical literature. After three decades, the issues remain (...) unresolved. Newcomb’s problem is of genuine importance because it poses a challenge to the theoretical adequacy of orthodox Bayesian decision theory. It has led both to the development of causal decision theory and to efforts aimed at defending the adequacy of the orthodox theory. (shrink)
Newcomb's Paradox thus serves as an illustrative vindication of the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom. A proper understanding of the counterfactual conditionals involved enables us to see that the pastness of God's knowledge serves neither to make God's beliefs counterfactually closed nor to rob us of genuine freedom. It is evident that our decisions determine God's past beliefs about those decisions and do so without invoking an objectionable backward causation. It is also clear that in the context of (...) foreknowledge, backtracking counterfactuals are entirely appropriate and that no alteration of the past occurs. With the justification of the one box strategy, the death of theological fatalism seems ensured. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A0985044 00003. (shrink)
Nicholas Rescher claims that rational decision theory “may leave us in the lurch”, because there are two apparently acceptable ways of applying “the standard machinery of expected-value analysis” to his Dr. Psycho paradox which recommend contradictory actions. He detects a similar contradiction in Newcomb’s problem. We consider his claims from the point of view of both Bayesian decision theory and causal decision theory. In Dr. Psycho and in Newcomb’s Problem, Rescher has used premisses about probabilities which he assumes to be (...) independent. From the former point of view, we show that the probability premisses are not independent but inconsistent, and their inconsistency is provable within probability theory alone. From the latter point of view, we show that their consistency can be saved, but then the contradictory recommendations evaporate. Consequently, whether one subscribes to evidential or causal decision theory, rational decision theory is not in any way vitiated by Rescher’s arguments. (shrink)
This paper aims to make three contributions to decision theory. First there is the hope that it will help to re-establish the legitimacy of the problem, pace various recent analyses provided by Maitzen and Wilson, Slezak and Priest. Second, after pointing out that analyses of the problem have generally relied upon evidence that is conditional on the taking of one particular option, this paper argues that certain assumptions implicit in those analyses are subtly flawed. As a third contribution, the piece (...) aims to draw attention to an important similarity between Newcomb’s problem and the toxin puzzle. In short, both problems illustrate the fact that you can have a reason to intend to φ without having a reason to actually φ. (shrink)
I apply some of the lessons from quantum theory, in particular from Bell’s theorem, to a debate on the foundations of decision theory and causation. By tracing a formal analogy between the basic assumptions of causal decision theory (CDT)—which was developed partly in response to Newcomb’s problem— and those of a local hidden variable theory in the context of quantum mechanics, I show that an agent who acts according to CDT and gives any nonzero credence to some possible causal interpretations (...) underlying quantum phenomena should bet against quantum mechanics in some feasible game scenarios involving entangled systems, no matter what evidence they acquire. As a consequence, either the most accepted version of decision theory is wrong, or it provides a practical distinction, in terms of the prescribed behaviour of rational agents, between some metaphysical hypotheses regarding the causal structure underlying quantum mechanics. (shrink)
I present a game-theoretic way to understand the situation describing Newcomb’s Problem (NP) which helps to explain the intuition of both one-boxers and two-boxers. David Lewis has shown that the NP may be modelled as a Prisoners Dilemma game (PD) in which ‘cooperating’ corresponds to ‘taking one box’. Adopting relevant results from game theory, this means that one should take just one box if the NP is repeated an indefinite number of times, but both boxes if it is a one-shot (...) game. Causal decision theorists thus give the right answer for the one-shot situation, whereas the one-boxers’ solution applies to the indefinitely iterated case. Because Nozick’s set-up of the NP is ambiguous between a one-shot and a repeated game, both of these solutions may appear plausible – depending on whether one conceives of the situation as one-off or repeated. If the players’ aim is to maximize their payoffs, the symmetric structure of the PD implies that the two players will behave alike both when the game is one-shot and when it is played repeatedly. Therefore neither the observed outcome of both players selecting the same strategy (in the PD) nor, correspondingly, the predictor’s accurate prediction of this outcome (in the NP) is at all surprising. There is no need for a supernatural predictor to explain the NP phenomena. (shrink)
I have maintained that some but not all prisoners' dilemmas are side-by-side Necomb problems. The present paper argues that, similarly, some but not all versions of Newcomb's Problem are prisoners' dilemmas in which Taking Two and Predicting Two make an equilibrium that is dispreferred by both the box-chooser and predictor to the outcome in which only one box is taken and this is predicted. I comment on what kinds of prisoner's dilemmas Newcomb's Problem can be, and on opportunities that results (...) reached may open for kinds of cooperative reasoning in versions of Newcomb's Problem. (shrink)
Should we act only for the sake of what we might bring about (causal decision theory); or is it enough for a decent motive that our action is highly correlated with something desirable (evidential decision theory)? The conflict between these points of view is embodied in Newcomb's problem. It is argued here that intuitive evidence from familiar decision contexts does not enable us to settle the issue, since the two theories dictate the same results in normal circumstances. Nevertheless, there are (...) several reasons to reject the causal approach: (1) its relative complexity; (2) its commitment to the existence of situations in which every possible act would be irrational; (3) its incorporation of an arbitrary time bias; and (4) its implicit distinction between what ought to be done and what ought to be hoped for. (shrink)
Abstract In an engaging and ingenious paper, Irvine (1993) purports to show how the resolution of Braess? paradox can be applied to Newcomb's problem. To accomplish this end, Irvine forges three links. First, he couples Braess? paradox to the Cohen?Kelly queuing paradox. Second, he couples the Cohen?Kelly queuing paradox to the Prisoner's Dilemma (PD). Third, in accord with received literature, he couples the PD to Newcomb's problem itself. Claiming that the linked models are ?structurally identical?, he argues that Braess solves (...) Newcomb's problem. This paper shows that Irvine's linkage depends on structural similarities?rather than identities?between and among the models. The elucidation of functional disanalogies illuminates structural dissimilarities which sever that linkage. I claim that the Cohen?Kelly queuing paradox cloaks a fine structure that decouples it from both Braess? paradox and the PD (Marinoff, 1996a). I further assert that the putative reduction of the PD to a Newcomb problem (e.g. Brams, 1975; Lewis, 1979) is seriously flawed. It follows that Braess? paradox does not solve Newcomb's problem via the foregoing and herein sundered chain. I conclude by substantiating a stronger claim, namely that Braess'paradox cannot solve Newcomb's problem at all. (shrink)
In order to refute the widely held belief that the game known as ‘Newcomb's paradox’ is physically nonsensical and impossible to imagine (e.g. because it involves backward causation), I tell a story in which the game is realized in a classical, deterministic universe in a physically plausible way. The predictor is a collection of beings which are by many orders of magnitude smaller than the player and which can, with their exquisite measurement techniques, observe the particles in the player's body (...) so accurately that they can predict his choice (in much the same way as we can predict the motion of celestial bodies). I argue that the player, by choosing whether to take only one box or both boxes, influences whether or not, in the past, the predictor put a million pounds into the second box. Yet, I establish that no causal paradox can arise in this set-up. (shrink)
Abstract Newcomb's problem is regularly described as a problem arising from equally defensible yet contradictory models of rationality. Braess? paradox is regularly described as nothing more than the existence of non?intuitive (but ultimately non?contradictory) equilibrium points within physical networks of various kinds. Yet it can be shown that Newcomb's problem is structurally identical to Braess? paradox. Both are instances of a well?known result in game theory, namely that equilibria of non?cooperative games are generally Pareto?inefficient. Newcomb's problem is simply a limiting (...) case in which the number of players equals one. Braess? paradox is another limiting case in which the ?players? need not be assumed to be discrete individuals. The result is that Newcomb's problem is no more difficult to solve than (the easy to solve) Braess? paradox. (shrink)
Newcomb's problem supposedly involves your choosing one or else two boxes in circumstances in which a predictor has made a prediction of how many boxes you will choose. We argue that the circumstances which allegedly define Newcomb's problem generate a previously unnoticed regress which shows that Newcomb's problem is insoluble because it is ill-formed. Those who favor, as we do, a ``no-box'' reply to Newcomb's problem typically claim either that the problem's solution is underdetermined or else that it is overdetermined. (...) We are no-boxers of the first kind, but the underdetermination we identify is more radical than any previously identified: it blocks the very set-up of the problem and not just potential solutions to the problem once it has been set up. The defect is subtle, but it cripples every genuine version of the problem, regardless of variations in such things as the predictor's degree of reliability, the basis on which the prediction is made, or the amount of money in each box. The regress shows that, surprisingly enough, no one can understand Newcomb's problem, and so no one can possibly solve it. (shrink)
• What’s essential to Newcomb’s problem? 1. You must choose between two particular acts: A1 = you take just the opaque box; A2 = you take both boxes, where the two states of nature are: S 1 = there’s $1M in the opaque box, S2 = there’s $0 in the opaque box.
If it is certain that performing an observation to determine whether P is true will in no way influence whether P is tme, then the proposition that the observation is performed ought to be probabilistically independent of P. Applying the notion of "observation" liberally, so that a wide variety of actions are treated as observations, this proposed new principle of belief revision yields the result that simple utihty maximization gives the correct solution to the Fisher smoking paradox and the two-box (...) solution to Newcomb's paradox. Contrary intuitions are explained as arising from mistakenly treating subjective probability as a measure of the intensity of conscious assent, whereas it ought to be regarded as measuring dispositions to action. (shrink)
It is shown that the Fisher smoking problem and Newcomb's problem are decisiontheoretically identical, each having at its core an identical case of Simpson's paradox for certain probabilities. From this perspective, incorrect solutions to these problems arise from treating them as cases of decisionmaking under risk, while adopting certain global empirical conditional probabilities as the relevant subjective probabihties. The most natural correct solutions employ the methodology of decisionmaking under uncertainty with lottery acts, with certain local empirical conditional probabilities adopted as (...) the relevant subjective probabilities. (shrink)
Certain paradoxes set us reeling endlessly. In surprise examination paradoxes, pupils' reasonings lead them to reel between expecting an examination and expecting none. With Newcomb's puzzle, choosers reel between reasoning in favour of choosing just one box and choosing two. The paradoxes demand an answer to what it is rational to believe or do. Highlighting other reelings and puzzles, this paper shows that the paradoxes should come as no surprise. The paradoxes demand an end to our reasoning when the conditions (...) they set ensure no end. They equivocate between, so to speak, reasoning in heaven and reasoning on earth; and, on the conditions set, not even an infinite god could reach a conclusion. (shrink)
This article proposes a new theory of rational decision, distinct from both causal decision theory (CDT) and evidential decision theory (EDT). First, some intuitive counterexamples to CDT and EDT are presented. Then the motivation for the new theory is given: the correct theory of rational decision will resemble CDT in that it will not be sensitive to any comparisons of absolute levels of value across different states of nature, but only to comparisons of the differences in value between the available (...) options within states of nature; however, the correct theory will also resemble EDT in that it will rely on conditional probabilities (not unconditional probabilities). The new theory gives a prominent role to the notion of a “benchmark” for each state of nature, by comparison with which the value of the available options in that state of nature are measured, and so it has been called the Benchmark Theory (BT). It is argued that BT gives the right verdict on the cases that seem to be counterexamples to CDT and EDT. Finally, some objections to BT are considered and answered. (shrink)
This paper looks at a dispute decision theory about how best to characterize expected utility maximization and express the logic of rational choice. Where A1, … , An are actions open to some particular agent, and S1, … , Sn are mutually exclusive states of the world such that the agent knows at least one of which obtains, does the logic of rational choice require an agent to consider the conditional probability of choice Ai given that some state Si obtains, (...) Prob(Ai/Si). Or, is the logic of choice better represented by considering the probability of the counterfactual if Ai then Si, Prob(Ai ⟥-> Si). Causal decision theory, developed by Allan Gibbard, William Harper, and David Lewis defend the counterfactual analysis; whereas, Richard Jeffrey and others defend the conditional probability analysis, evidential decision theory. I argue that the problems posed by cases of decision instability favor evidential decision theory. (shrink)
This paper proposes a view uniformly extending expected utility calculations to both individual and group choice contexts. Three related cases illustrate the problems inherent in applying expected utility to group choices. However, these problems do not essentially depend upon the tact that more than one agent is involved. I devise a modified strategy allowing the application of expected utility calculations to these otherwise problematic cases. One case, however, apparently leads to contradiction. But recognizing the falsity of proposition (1) below allows (...) the resolution of the contradiction, and also allows my modified strategy to resolve otherwise paradoxical cases of group choice such as the Prisoners' Dilemma: -/- (1) lf an agent x knows options A and B are both available, and x knows that were he to do A he would be better off (in every respect) than were he to do B, then doing A is more rational for x than doing B. (shrink)
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.
Richard Jeffrey long held that decision theory should be formulated without recourse to explicitly causal notions. Newcomb problems stand out as putative counterexamples to this ‘evidential’ decision theory. Jeffrey initially sought to defuse Newcomb problems via recourse to the doctrine of ratificationism, but later came to see this as problematic. We will see that Jeffrey’s worries about ratificationism were not compelling, but that valid ratificationist arguments implicitly presuppose causal decision theory. In later work, Jeffrey argued that Newcomb problems are not (...) decisions at all because agents who face them possess so much evidence about correlations between their actions and states of the world that they are unable to regard their deliberate choices as causes of outcomes, and so cannot see themselves as making free choices. Jeffrey’s reasoning goes wrong because it fails to recognize that an agent’s beliefs about her immediately available acts are so closely tied to the immediate causes of these actions that she can create evidence that outweighs any antecedent correlations between acts and states. Once we recognize that deliberating agents are free to believe what they want about their own actions, it will be clear that Newcomb problems are indeed counterexamples to evidential decision theory. (shrink)
The paper is essentially a short version Spohn "Strategic Rationality" which emphasizes in particular how the ideas developed there may be used to shed new light on the iterated prisoner's dilemma (and on iterated Newcomb's problem).
There are two boxes in front of you and you are asked to choose between taking only box B or taking both box A and box B. Box A contains $ 1,000. Box B will contain either nothing or $ 1,000,000. What B will contain is (or will be) determined by Predictor, who has an excellent track record of predicting your choices. There are two possibilities. Either Predictor has already made his move by predicting your choice and putting a million (...) dollars in B iff he predicted that you will take only B (like in the standard Newcomb problem); or else Predictor has not yet made his move but will wait and observe what box you choose and then put a million dollars in B iff you take only B. In cases like this, Predictor makes his move before the subject roughly half of the time. However, there is a Metapredictor, who has an excellent track record of predicting Predictor’s choices as well as your own. You know all this. Metapredictor informs you of the following truth functional: Either you choose A and B, and Predictor will make his move after you make your choice; or else you choose only B, and Predictor has already made his choice. Now, what do you choose? (shrink)
Examples involving common causes — most prominently, examples involving genetically influenced choices — are analytically equivalent not to standard Newcomb Problems — in which the Predictor genuinely predicts the agent's decision — but to non-standard Newcomb Problems — in which the Predictor guarantees the truth of her predictions by interfering with the agent's decision to make the agent choose as it was predicted she would. When properly qualified, causal and epistemic decision theories diverge only on standard — not on non-standard (...) — Newcomb Problems, and thus not on examples involving common causes. (shrink)
It is plausible that Newcomb problems in which causal maximizers and evidential maximizers would do different things would not be possible for ideal maximizers who are attentive to metatickles. An objection to Eells's first argument for this makes welcome a second. Against it I argue that even ideal evidential and causal maximizers would do different things in some non-dominance Newcomb problems; and that they would hope for different things in some third-person and non-action problems, which is relevant if a good (...) theory of rational choices of acts should fit smoothly into a good theory of rational desires for facts. (shrink)
Newcomb's problem and similar cases show the need to incorporate causal distinctions into the theory of rational decision; the usual noncausal decision theory, though simpler, does not always give the right answers. I give my own version of causal decision theory, compare it with versions offered by several other authors, and suggest that the versions have more in common than meets the eye.
A set of eight mini-discourses. 1. The conceivability of the physical world's running in the opposite temporal direction. 2. Augustine's reason for thinking this is not conceivable for the world of the mind. 3. Trying to imagine being a creature that lives atemporally. 4. Memory's need for causal input. 5. Acting in the knowledge that how one acts is strictly determined. 6. The Newcomb problem. 7. The idea that all voluntary action is intended to be remedial. 8. Haunted by the (...) strangeness of the idea of the past qua past. (shrink)
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.
In this paper I address the issue of narrativity in music. The central question is the extent to which pure instrumental music in the classical tradition can or should be understood as narrative, that is, as narrating a story of some kind. I am interested in the varying potential and aptness for narrative construal of different sorts of instrumental music, and in what the content of such narratives might plausibly be thought to be. But ultimately I explore, at greater length, (...) an alternative way of construing musical process, namely, as dramatic rather than narrative in nature, following the lead of two musicologists, Anthony Newcomb and Fred Maus. After a comparison of the respective merits of narrative and dramatic construals of music, the paper concludes with an illustrative reading, in dramatic mode, of part of the opening movement of Schubert's Piano Sonata in A minor, D. 845. (shrink)
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 (...) less well than acts that conform to CDT. We raise two objections to Arntzenius’s example. We argue, first, that the example is subtly incoherent, in a way that undermines its effectiveness against EDT; and, second, that the example relies on calculating the average return over an inappropriate population of acts. (shrink)
This collection of John Mackie's papers on topics in epistemology, some of which have not previously been published, deal with such issues as: incorrigible empirical statements; rationalism and empiricism; the philosophy of John Anderson; self-refutation; Plato's theory of idea; ideological explanation; problems of intentionality; Popper's third world;; mind, brain, and causation; Newcomb's Paradox and the direction of causation; induction; causation in concept, knowledge, and reality; absolutism; Locke and representative perception; and anti-realisms.
“The demonstration that no possible combination of known substances, known forms of machinery and known forms of force, can be united in a practical machine by which man shall fly long distances through the air, seems to the writer as complete as it is possible for the demonstration of any physical fact to be.” Simon Newcomb, Professor of Mathematics, John Hopkins University, 1901 Abstract Free will is described in terms of the useful properties that it could confer, explaining why it (...) might have been selected for over the course of evolution. These are: exterior unpredictability; interior rationality; and social accountability. A process is described that might bring it about when deployed in a suitable social context. It is suggested that this process could itself be of an evolutionary nature – that free will might “evolve” in the brain during development. This mental evolution effectively separates the internal and external contexts, whilst retaining the coherency between individual’s public accounts of their actions. This is supported by the properties of evolutionary algorithms and possesses the three desired properties. Some objections to the possibility of free will are dealt with by pointing out the prima facie evidence and showing how an assumption that everything must be either deterministic or random can result from an unsupported assumption of universalism. (shrink)
Newcomb problems turn on a tension between two principles of choice: roughly, a principle sensitive to the causal features of the relevant situation, and a principle sensitive only to evidential factors. Two-boxers give priority to causal beliefs, and one-boxers to evidential beliefs. A similar issue can arise when the modality in question is chance, rather than causation. In this case, the conﬂict is between decision rules based on credences guided solely by chances, and rules based on credences guided by other (...) sorts of probabilistic evidence. Far from excluding cases of the latter kind, Lewis’s Principal Principle explicitly allows for them, in the form of the caveat that credences should only follow beliefs about chances in the absence of "inadmissible evidence". In this paper I exhibit a tension in Lewis’s views on these two matters. I present a class of decision problems –- actually, I argue, a species of Newcomb problem –- in which Lewis’s view of the relevance of inadmissible evidence seems to recommend one-boxing, while his causal decision theory recommends two-boxing. I propose a diagnosis for this dilemma, and suggest a remedy, based on an extension of a proposal due to Ned Hall and others from the case of chance to that of causation. The remedy dissolves many apparent Newcomb problems, and makes one-boxing non-controversial in those that remain. (shrink)
There are arguments which purport to rebut psychological determinism by appealing to its alleged incompatibility with rationality. I argue that they all fail. Against Davidson, I argue that rationality does not preclude the existence of psychological laws. Against Popper, I argue that rationality is compatible with the possibility of predicting human actions. Against Schlesinger, I claim that Newcomb's problem cannot be invoked to show that human actions are unpredictable. Having vindicated the possibility of a rationally-based theory of action, I consider (...) the form it might take. (shrink)
In “A Subjectivist’s Guide to Objective Chance,” David Lewis says that he is “led to wonder whether anyone but a subjectivist is in a position to understand objective chance.” The present essay aims to motivate this same Lewisean attitude, and a similar degree of modest subjectivism, with respect to objective causation. The essay begins with Newcomb problems, which turn on an apparent tension between two principles of choice: roughly, a principle sensitive to the causal features of the relevant situation, and (...) a principle sensitive only to evidential factors. Two-boxers give priority to causal beliefs, and one-boxers to evidential beliefs. The essay notes that a similar issue can arise when the modality in question is chance, rather than causation. In this case, the conflict is between decision rules based on credences guided solely by chances, and rules based on credences guided by other sorts of probabilistic evidence. Far from excluding cases of the latter kind, Lewis’s Principal Principle explicitly allows for them, in the form of the caveat that credences should follow beliefs about chances only in the absence of “inadmissible evidence.” The essay then exhibits a tension in Lewis’s views on these two matters, by presenting a class of decision problems—some of them themselves Newcomb problems—in which Lewis’s view of the relevance of inadmissible evidence seems in tension with his causal decision theory. It offers a diagnosis for this dilemma and proposes a remedy, based on an extension of a proposal due to Ned Hall and others from the case of chance to that of causation. The remedy suggests a new view of the relation between causal decision theory and evidential decision theory, namely, that they stand to each other much as chance stands to credence, being objective and subjective faces of the same practical coin. This has much the same metaphysical benefits as Lewis’s own view of chance and also throws interesting new light on Newcomb problems, providing an irenic resolution of the apparent disagreement between causal and evidential decision rules. (shrink)
One of us (Eells 1982) has defended traditional evidential decision theory against prima facie Newcomb counterexamples by assuming that a common cause forms a conjunctive fork with its joint effects. In this paper, the evidential theory is defended without this assumption. The suggested rationale shows that the theory's assumptions are not about the nature of causality, but about the nature of rational deliberation. These presuppositions are weak enough for the argument to count as a strong justification of the evidential theory.
In a celebrated article, published nearly a century ago, Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld endeavored to elucidate the various types of jural relations. Hohfeld’s scheme has been justly regarded as a seminal contribution to analytical jurisprudence, and has stimulated lively debate since. This Essay aims to refute one of Hohfeld’s fundamental and most influential theses: the axiom of right–duty correlativity. To do so, it employs the simplest refutation strategy in first-order logic, namely providing a valid counterexample. Part I discusses earlier attempts to (...) do likewise, and explains why they failed. For the most part, previous illustrations of ostensibly standalone rights or standalone duties neglected relevant parties who could owe the correlative duties or hold the correlative rights, respectively. Part II puts forward a simple argument: There are abstract duties in private law that ban certain types of conduct without reference to specific victims. Those duties are not necessarily correlative with rights, although their breach may generate secondary duties with corresponding rights. In particular, tort law allows plaintiffs to recover for harm caused by breach of duty that occurred before they acquired legal personality. This is tantamount to recognizing duties that are not correlative with rights, and therefore invalidates the correlativity axiom. (shrink)
Why should I be rational? -- Reasonableness-- Scientific objectivity -- Is scientific neutrality a myth? -- Humaneness -- The prevalence of humbug -- The rationality of voting -- Newcomb's problem demystified.
The paper attempts to rationalize cooperation in the one-shot prisoners' dilemma (PD). It starts by introducing (and preliminarily investigating) a new kind of equilibrium (differing from Aumann's correlated equilibria) according to which the players' actions may be correlated (sect. 2). In PD the Pareto-optimal among these equilibria is joint cooperation. Since these equilibria seem to contradict causal preconceptions, the paper continues with a standard analysis of the causal structure of decision situations (sect. 3). The analysis then raises to a reflexive (...) point of view according to which the agent integrates his own present and future decision situations into the causal picture of his situation (sect. 4). This reflexive structure is first applied to the toxin puzzle and then to Newcomb's problem, showing a way to rationalize drinking the toxin and taking only one box with-out assuming causal mystery (sect. 5). The latter result is finally extended to a rationalization of cooperation in PD (sect. 6). (shrink)
The recent operationalization of the famous Newcomb's game by Schmidt (1998) offers an interesting and thought-provoking look at the plausibility of backward causation in a Newtonian universe. Hereby we investigate two details of the Schmidt's scenario which may, at least in principle, invalidate his conclusion in two different domains: one dealing with the issue of Newtonian predictability in specific instance of human actions, and the other stemming from a possible strategy aimed at obviating the anthropically oriented view of backward causation (...) as applied to a judicial and ethical problem posed by a version of the scenario. We conclude that the scenario is at least to be more complex than originally presented in order to remain viable. However, it points to a very deep and delicate question of compatibility of backward causation with the conventional ethical standards. (shrink)
A person who does not have good intellectual reasons for believing in God can, depending on his probabilities and values for consequences of believing, have good practical reasons. Pascalian wagers founded on a variety of possible probability/value profiles are examined from a Bayesian perspective central to which is the idea that states and options are pragmatically reasonable only if they maximize subjective expected value. Attention is paid to problems posed by representations of values by Cantorian infinities. An appendix attends to (...) Robinsonian hyperreals. Another appendix presents for comparison Newcomb's Problem and a problem in some ways like it suggested, I think, by ideas of John Calvin. (shrink)
A "symptomatic act" is an act that is evidence for a state that it has no tendency to cause. In this paper I show that when the evidential value of a symptomatic act might influence subsequent choices, causal decision theory may initially recommend against its own use for those subsequent choices. And if one knows that one will nevertheless use causal decision theory to make those subsequent choices, causal decision theory may favor the one-box solution in Newcomb's problem, and may (...) recommend against making cost-free observations. But if one can control one's future choices, then causal decision theory never recommends against cost-free observation. (shrink)
Papers included:«About Properties of L-Inconsistent Theories» by Vyacheslav Moiseyev «Paraconsistent logic! (A reply to Slater)» by Jean-Yves Béziau «The Logic of Lying» by Moses Òkè «Sparse Parts» by Kristie Miller «Are Functional Properties Causally Potent?» by Peter Alward «Subcontraries and the Meaning of `If…Then’» by Ronald A. Cordero «Does Frege’s Definition of Existence Invalidate the Ontological Argument?» by Piotr Labenz «Why Prisoners’ Dilemma Is Not A Newcomb Problem» by P. A. Woodward «A Paradox Concerning Science and Knowledge» by Margaret Cuonzo (...) «Between Platonism and Pragmatism: An alternative reading of Plato’s Theaetetus» by Paul F. Johnson «Blob Theory: N-adic Properties Do Not Exist» by Jeffrey Grupp. (shrink)
The paper argues that the standard decision theoretic account of strategies and their rationality or optimality is much too narrow, that strategies should rather condition future action to future decision situations (a point of view already developed in my Grundlagen der Entscheidungstheorie, sect. 4.4), that practical deliberation must therefore essentially rely on a relation of superiority and inferiority between possible future decision situations, that all this allows to substantially broaden the theory of practical rationality, that a long list of points (...) attended to in the literature can be subsumed under the broadened perspective (including a novel view on the iterated prisoner's dilemma and on iterated Newcomb's problem, which, however, is revised in Spohn (2003) "Dependency Equilibria and the Causal Structure of Decision and Game Situation"), and that the task to complete and systematize this list indeed forms a fruitful research programme. (shrink)
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.
Defenders of sophisticated evidential decision theory (EDT) have argued (1) that its failure to provide correct recommendations in problems where the agent believes himself asymmetrically fallible in executing his choices is no flaw of the theory, and (2) that causal decision theory gives incorrect recommendations in certain examples unless it is supplemented with an additional metatickle or ratifiability deliberation mechanism. In the first part of this paper, I argue that both positions are incorrect. In the second part of the paper, (...) I show how the agent's preferences involved in standard counterexamples to EDT, such as Newcomb's problem, violate the Jeffrey/Bolker preference axioms, specifically the Impartiality axiom. (shrink)
This is an important new book about human motivation, about the reasons people have for their actions. What is distinctively new about it is its focus on how people see or understand their situations, options, and prospects. By taking account of people's understandings (along with their beliefs and desires), Professor Schick is able to expand the current theory of decision and action. The author provides a perspective on the topic by outlining its history. He defends his new theory against criticism, (...) considers its formal structure, and shows at length how it resolves many currently debated problems: the problems of conflict and weakness of will, Allais' problem, Kahneman and Tversky's problems, Newcomb's problem, and others. The book will be of special interest to philosophers, psychologists, and economists. (shrink)
A recent slew of arguments, if sound, would demonstrate that realism about value involves a kind of paradox-I call it the BAD paradox.More precisely, they show that if there are genuine propositions about the good, then one could maintain harmony between one’s desires and one’s beliefs about the good only on pain of violating fundamental principles of decision theory. I show. however, the BAD paradox turns out to be a version of Newcomb’s problem, and that the cognitivist about value can (...) avoid the paradox by embracing casual decision theory. (shrink)
In this paper I explore a version of standard (expected utility) decision theory in which the probability parameter is interpreted as an objective chance believed by agents to obtain and values of this parameter are fixed by indicative conditionals linking possible actions with possible outcomes. After reviewing some recent developments centering on the common-cause counterexamples to the standard approach, I introduce and briefly discuss the key notions in my own approach. (This approach has essentially the same results as the causal (...) approach in common-cause cases.) I then discuss the Rule of Dominance and find, in the context of the present proposal, that it cannot serve as an independent source of action justification. Turning next to Newcomb''s Problem, I argue that the much discussed issue of back-tracking counterfactuals is something of a red herring for decision theory. Once the twin distractions of back-tracking counterfactuals and Dominance Reasoning are set aside the 1-box solution emerges as a natural consequence of the present proposal. It is of interest that this proposal agrees with the causal approach in the standard common-cause examples and the expected-utility approach in the Newcomb case: one can be smart and rich and keep on smoking. (shrink)
This paper treats two problem cases in decision theory, the Newcomb problem and Reed Richter''s Button III. Although I argue that, contrary to Richter, the latter case does not constitute a genuine counterexample to a standard general proposition of (causal) decision theory, I agree with and undertake to amplify his solution to the decision problem in Button III. I then apply the conclusions and distinctions in the foregoing treatment of Button III to the Newcomb problem and argue that a familiar (...) version of the dominance argument for taking both boxes runs afoul of plausible general constraints on rational agency. The underlying theme of the paper is that basic considerations of epistemic coherence play an important role in dealing with problem cases in decision theory. (shrink)
It is shown that even if a process of ideal evidential deliberation that paid attention to its own progress would in every case lead to credences that made things probabilistically independent of actions of which they were believed to be causally independent; it would not in every case lead to agreement in the ultimate dictates of evidential and causal decision theories. This point is made by a decision problem in which the action prescribed by causal decision theory is not (as (...) it is in Newcomb's Problem) a dominant action. It is also shown that such non-dominance problems provide decisive objections to Ratificationism. (shrink)
In a decision problem with a dynamic setting there is at least one option whose realization would change the expected utilities of options by changing the probability or utility function with respect to which the expected utilities of options are computed. A familiar example is Newcomb's problem. William Harper proposes a generalization of causal decision theory intended to cover all decision problems with dynamic settings, not just Newcomb's problem. His generalization uses Richard Jeffrey's ideas on ratifiability, and material from game (...) theory on mixed strategies. Harper's proposal has two drawbacks, however. One concerns the mechanism for choosing among ratifiable options. The other concerns the proposal's reliance upon mixed strategies. Here I make another proposal that eliminates these two drawbacks. (shrink)
Reminiscences of Peter, by P. Oppenheim.--Natural kinds, by W. V. Quine.--Inductive independence and the paradoxes of confirmation, by J. Hintikka.--Partial entailment as a basis for inductive logic, by W. C. Salmon.--Are there non-deductive logics?, by W. Sellars.--Statistical explanation vs. statistical inference, by R. C. Jeffre--Newcomb's problem and two principles of choice, by R. Nozick.--The meaning of time, by A. Grünbaum.--Lawfulness as mind-dependent, by N. Rescher.--Events and their descriptions: some considerations, by J. Kim.--The individuation of events, by D. Davidson.--On properties, by (...) H. Putnam.--A method for avoiding the Curry paradox, by F. B. Fitch.--Publications (1934-1969) by Carl G. Hempel (p. -270). (shrink)
Although best known for the hugely influential Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), Robert Nozick has eschewed the label ''political philosopher,'' as the vast majority of his writings have focused on other areas. Indeed, the breadth of Nozick's work is perhaps greater than that of any other contemporary philosopher. A. R. Lacey presents the first book to give full and proper discussion of Nozick's philosophy as a whole and of critical reactions to it, spanning areas as diverse as ethics, epistemology, and (...) philosophy of religion. The book begins by examining Anarchy, State, and Utopia and moves on to Nozick's noted work on the theory of knowledge and his notion of ''tracking the truth.'' Lacey explores the philosopher's metaphysical writings, including his ''closest continuer theory'' of personal identity, and his reflections on free will and the existence of God. He addresses the moral basis of Nozick's political philosophy in depth. Later chapters discuss his ideas of ''symbolic utility,'' his evolutionary account of rationality, and his varying treatments of Newcomb's Paradox. The book concludes with more general topics, including Nozick's thoughts on the meaning of life and what those who search for it are really looking for. Given Nozick's reluctance to respond to his critics, the book's discussion of the secondary literature on his work is invaluable. Throughout, Lacey finds themes that unite Nozick's diverse writings, noting, for example, his hostility to coercion of all kinds. Illuminating, informative, and clearly written, the book will be welcomed as an authoritative guide to Nozick's philosophical thinking. (shrink)
This enjoyable book presents a potpourri of paradoxes with the purpose of showing how they connect to serious philosophical issues. The main paradoxes are Zeno's, the sorites, Newcomb's problem, the paradoxes of confirmation, the surprise examination, and the paradoxes of self-reference. A final chapter defends the assumption that contradictions are unacceptable and an appendix throws in sixteen minor paradoxes. Along the way, R. M. Sainsbury peppers the reader with helpful queries and provocative asides.
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