About this topic

Making a decision is a way of forming an intention, at least other things equal. In making a decision we seem to be active – decisions seem to be mental actions. One question philosophers have asked about decisions is whether and in what sense decisions really are actions. Other questions include: (i) what makes a decision rational? (ii) do decisions provide reasons to act as you have decided? (iii) are decisions reducible to other kinds of mental states or events (e.g. desire-formation). Since decisions lead to intentions, many discussions of intentions are also relevant to discussions of decisions, and vice-versa.

Key works For discussion of whether decisions are actions, see Mele 2000 and Pink 2007. For discussion of the rationality of decisions and of whether decisions give us reasons to act, see Pink 2007Smith 1991, and Cullity 2008.
Introductions Pettit 2010
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161 found
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  1. added 2018-11-06
    What’s a Rational Self-Torturer to Do?Douglas W. Portmore - manuscript
    This paper concerns Warren Quinn’s famous “The Puzzle of the Self-Torturer.” I argue that even if we accept his assumption that practical rationality is purely instrumental such that what he ought to do is simply a function of how the relevant options compare to each other in terms of satisfying his actual preferences that doesn’t mean that every explanation as to why he shouldn’t advance to the next level must appeal to the idea that so advancing would be suboptimal in (...)
  2. added 2018-09-28
    Bias.Daniel Moseley - forthcoming - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Malden, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
    Following Kahneman and Tversky, I examine the term ‘bias’ as it is used to refer to systematic errors. Given the central role of error in this understanding of bias, it is helpful to consider what it is to err and to distinguish different kinds of error. I identify two main kinds of error, examine ethical issues that pertain to the relation of these types of error, and explain their moral significance. Next, I provide a four-level explanatory framework for understanding biases: (...)
  3. added 2018-08-26
    How Do You Like Me Now?Gerald Hull - manuscript
    These reflections are an attempt to get to the heart of the "reason is the slave of the passions" debate. The whole point of deliberation is to arrive at a choice. What factors persons find to be choice-relevant is a purely empirical matter. This has significant consequences for the views of Hume, Williams, Nagel, Parfit and Korsgaard regarding practical reason.
  4. added 2018-06-29
    Book ReviewsRobert Audi,. Practical Reasoning and Ethical Decision.New York: Routledge, 2005. Pp. 264. $120.00 ; $37.95. [REVIEW]Matt King - 2008 - Ethics 118 (4):717-721.
  5. added 2018-06-20
    Extended Agency and the Problem of Diachronic Autonomy.Julia Nefsky & Sergio Tenenbaum - manuscript
    It seems to be a humdrum fact of human agency that we act on intentions or decisions that we have made at an earlier time. At breakfast, you look at the Taco Hut menu online and decide that later today you’ll have one of their avocado burritos for lunch. You’re at your desk and you hear the church bells ring the noon hour. You get up, walk to Taco Hut, and order the burrito as planned. As mundane as this sort (...)
  6. added 2018-06-02
    Moral Uncertainty and Value Comparison.Amelia Hicks - forthcoming - In Russ Shafer Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 13. Oxford, UK: pp. 161-183.
    Several philosophers have recently argued that decision-theoretic frameworks for rational choice under risk fail to provide prescriptions for choice in cases of moral uncertainty. They conclude that there are no rational norms that are “sensitive” to a decision-maker's moral uncertainty. But in this paper, I argue that one sometimes has a rational obligation to take one's moral uncertainty into account in the course of moral deliberation. I first provide positive motivation for the view that one's moral beliefs can affect what (...)
  7. added 2018-05-03
    Invisible Women in Reproductive Technologies: Critical Reflections.Piyali Mitra - 2018 - Indian Journal of Medical Ethics 3 (2):113-9.
    The recent spectacular progress in assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) has resulted in new ethical dilemmas. Though women occupy a central role in the reproductive process, within the ART paradigm, the importance accorded to the embryo commonly surpasses that given to the mother. This commentary questions the increasing tendency to position the embryonic subject in an antagonistic relation with the mother. I examine how the mother’s reproductive autonomy is compromised in relation to that of her embryo and argue in favour of (...)
  8. added 2018-02-17
    Hard Choices: Decision Making Under Unresolved Conflict.Isaac Levi - 1990 - Cambridge University Press.
    It is a commonplace that in making decisions agents often have to juggle competing values, and that no choice will maximise satisfaction of them all. However, the prevailing account of these cases assumes that there is always a single ranking of the agent's values, and therefore no unresolvable conflict between them. Isaac Levi denies this assumption, arguing that agents often must choose without having balanced their different values and that to be rational, an act does not have to be optimal, (...)
  9. added 2018-02-11
    “Comparativism: The Ground of Rational Choice,” in Errol Lord and Barry McGuire, Eds., Weighing Reasons , 2016.Ruth Chang - 2016 - In B. Maguire & E. Lord (eds.), Weighing Reasons. Oxford University Press. pp. 213-240.
    What, normatively speaking, are the grounds of rational choice? This paper defends ‘comparativism’, the view that a comparative fact grounds rational choice. It examines three of the most serious challenges to comparativism: 1) that sometimes what grounds rational choice is an exclusionary-type relation among alternatives; 2) that an absolute fact such as that it’s your duty or conforms to the Categorial Imperative grounds rational choice; and 3) that rational choice between incomparables is possible, and in particular, all that is needed (...)
  10. added 2018-02-11
    The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination.Chrisoula Andreou & Mark D. White (eds.) - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
    When we fail to achieve our goals, procrastination is often the culprit. But how exactly is procrastination to be understood? This edited volume integrates the problem of procrastination into philosophical inquiry, exploring the relationship of procrastination to agency, rationality, and ethics--topics that philosophy is well-suited to address.
  11. added 2018-01-24
    Review of Rational Decision and Causality. [REVIEW]James Cargile - 1984 - Journal of Philosophy 81 (3):163-168.
  12. added 2018-01-02
    Bias (and Heuristics).María G. Navarro - 2018 - The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Theory. Edited by Bryan S. Turner:143-145.
    A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in our judgment or our processing of what we perceive. Its raison d'être is the evolutionary need to produce immediate judgments in order to adopt a position quickly in response to stimuli, problems, or situations that catch our attention for some reason. They have a social dimension because they are present in the interactions and decision-making processes of ordinary life. They can be understood to be an adaptive response to human inability to (...)
  13. added 2017-12-02
    Дизайн онлайн-делиберации: Выбор, критерии и эмпирические данные.Todd Davies, Reid Chandler & Anatoly Kulik - 2013 - Политическая Наука 2013 (1):83-132.
    Перевод статьи: Davies T., Chandler R. Online deliberation design: Choices, criteria, and evidence // Democracy in motion: Evaluating the practice and impact of deliberative civic engagement / Nabatchi T., Weiksner M., Gastil J., Leighninger M. (eds.). -- Oxford: Oxford univ. press, 2013. -- P. 103-131. А. Кулик. -/- Вниманию читателей предлагается обзор эмпирических исследований в области дизайна онлайн-форумов, предназначенных для вовлечения граждан в делиберацию. Размерности дизайна определены для различных характеристик делиберации: назначения, целевой аудитории, разобщенности участников в пространстве и во времени, (...)
  14. added 2017-12-02
    Online Deliberation Design: Choices, Criteria, and Evidence.Todd Davies & Reid Chandler - 2012 - In Tina Nabatchi, John Gastil, G. Michael Weiksner & Matt Leihninger (eds.), Democracy in Motion: Evaluating the Practice and Impact of Deliberative Civic Engagement. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 103-131.
    This chapter reviews empirical evidence bearing on the design of online forums for deliberative civic engagement. Dimensions of design are defined for different aspects of the deliberation: its purpose, the target population, the spatiotemporal distance separating participants, the communication medium, and the deliberative process to be followed. After a brief overview of criteria for evaluating different design options, empirical findings are organized around design choices. Research has evolved away from treating technology for online deliberation dichotomously (either present or not) toward (...)
  15. added 2017-11-30
    Decision Theory, Philosophical Perspectives.Darren Bradley - 2013 - In Hal Pashler (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Mind. Sage Publications.
    Decision theory is concerned with how agents should act when the consequences of their actions are uncertain. The central principle of contemporary decision theory is that the rational choice is the choice that maximizes subjective expected utility. This entry explains what this means, and discusses the philosophical motivations and consequences of the theory. The entry will consider some of the main problems and paradoxes that decision theory faces, and some of responses that can be given. Finally the entry will briefly (...)
  16. added 2017-11-08
    Rational Decision Making: Balancing RUN and JUMP Modes of Analysis.Tilmann Betsch & Carsten Held - 2012 - Mind and Society 11 (1):69-80.
    Rationality in decision making is commonly assessed by comparing choice performance against normative standards. We argue that such a performance-centered approach blurs the distinction between rational choice and adaptive behavior. Instead, rational choice should be assessed with regard to the way individuals make analytic decisions. We suggest that analytic decisions can be made in two different modes in which control processes are directed at different levels. In a RUN mode, thought is directed at controlling the operation of a decision strategy. (...)
  17. added 2017-11-08
    The Equivalence of Bayes and Causal Rationality in Games.Oliver Board - 2006 - Theory and Decision 61 (1):1-19.
    In a seminal paper, Aumann (1987, Econometrica 55, 1–18) showed how the choices of rational players could be analyzed in a unified state space framework. His innovation was to include the choices of the players in the description of the states, thus abolishing Savage’s (1954, The Foundations of Statistics. Wiley, New York) distinction between acts and consequences. But this simplification comes at a price: Aumann’s notion of Bayes rationality does not allow players to evaluate what would happen were they to (...)
  18. added 2017-11-07
    Nicholas Rescher, Ed., The Logic of Decision and Action. [REVIEW]Robert W. Beard - 1969 - Journal of Value Inquiry 3 (2):159.
  19. added 2017-11-03
    Decision Theory for Agents with Incomplete Preferences.Adam Bales, Daniel Cohen & Toby Handfield - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (3):453-70.
    Orthodox decision theory gives no advice to agents who hold two goods to be incommensurate in value because such agents will have incomplete preferences. According to standard treatments, rationality requires complete preferences, so such agents are irrational. Experience shows, however, that incomplete preferences are ubiquitous in ordinary life. In this paper, we aim to do two things: (1) show that there is a good case for revising decision theory so as to allow it to apply non-vacuously to agents with incomplete (...)
  20. added 2017-11-03
    A Paradox for Supertask Decision Makers.Andrew Bacon - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 153 (2):307.
    I consider two puzzles in which an agent undergoes a sequence of decision problems. In both cases it is possible to respond rationally to any given problem yet it is impossible to respond rationally to every problem in the sequence, even though the choices are independent. In particular, although it might be a requirement of rationality that one must respond in a certain way at each point in the sequence, it seems it cannot be a requirement to respond as such (...)
  21. added 2017-11-03
    A Theory of Rational Decision in Games.Michael Bacharach - 1987 - Erkenntnis 27 (1):17 - 55.
  22. added 2017-10-31
    Rational Decision Theory: The Foundations of Causal Decision Theory.Bradshaw Frederick Armendt - 1983 - Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago
    In recent years rational decision theories such as Richard Jeffrey's, which recommend that an agent act so as to maximize his conditional expected utility, have come under attack on the grounds that they are unable to adequately handle certain kinds of decision problems. Because of their general structure, these problems are sometimes known as "causal counterexamples" to the theories; well-known examples are Newcomb's problem, the Prisoner's Dilemma, and Fisher's smoking gene problem. Several versions of "causal decision theory" have been presented (...)
  23. added 2017-10-30
    The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination.Chrisoula Andreou & Mark D. White (eds.) - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
  24. added 2017-10-23
    Time-Slice Rationality and Filling in Plans.Justin Snedegar - 2017 - Analysis 77 (3):595-607.
    In Reasons Without Persons, Brian Hedden argues that a theory of rationality need not provide diachronic norms for reasoning, since we can explain all we need to explain about rationality using purely synchronic norms. This article argues that a theory of rationality should contain at least one diachronic norm for reasoning, namely a norm to fill in the details of one's coarse-grained or partial plans. It also explores a possible synchronic approach to this aspect of rationality.
  25. added 2017-10-06
    Modèle rationnel ou modèle économique de la rationalité?Philippe Mongin - 1984 - Revue Economique 35 (1):9-63.
    This article critically discusses the concept of economic rationality, arguing that it is too narrow and specific to encompass the full concept of practical rationality. Economic rationality is identified here with the use of the optimizing model of decision, as well as of expected utility apparatus to deal with uncertainty. To argue that practical rationality is broader than economic rationality, the article claims that practical rationality includes bounded rationality as a particular case, and that bounded rationality cannot be reduced to (...)
  26. added 2017-08-08
    Normatywne implikacje preferencji wobec osób zidentyfikowanych.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2017 - Diametros 51:113-136.
    The results of empirical research show that people prefer to help identified individuals rather than unidentified ones. This preference has an important influence on many private and public decisions, for example concerning vaccination or the distribution of healthcare resources. The aim of this article is to define the terms: “identified”, “unidentified”, “statistical”, and then to analyze three philosophical arguments concerning the normative implications of this preference: 1) contractualism ex ante ; 2) fair distribution of chances and risks; 3) principles regarding (...)
  27. added 2017-03-09
    Transformative Choices.Ruth Chang - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):237-282.
    This paper proposes a way to understand transformative choices, choices that change ‘who you are.’ First, it distinguishes two broad models of transformative choice: 1) ‘event-based’ transformative choices in which some event—perhaps an experience—downstream from a choice transforms you, and 2) ‘choice-based’ transformative choices in which the choice itself—and not something downstream from the choice—transforms you. Transformative choices are of interest primarily because they purport to pose a challenge to standard approaches to rational choice. An examination of the event-based transformative (...)
  28. added 2017-02-01
    Thinking About Acting: Logical Foundations for Rational Decision Making.John L. Pollock - 2006 - Oxford University Press, Usa.
    Pollock argues that theories of ideal rationality are largely irrelevant to the decision making of real agents. Thinking about Acting aims to provide a theory of "real rationality.".
  29. added 2016-12-12
    The Psychology of Freedom.Thomas Pink - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
    This 1996 book presents an alternative theory of the will - of our capacity for decision making. The book argues that taking a decision to act is something we do, and do freely - as much an action as the actions which our decisions explain - and that our freedom of action depends on this capacity for free decision-making. But decision-making is no ordinary action. Decisions to act also have a special executive function, that of ensuring the rationality of the (...)
  30. added 2016-12-12
    Practical Rules: When We Need Them and When We Don't.Alan H. Goldman - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.
    Rules proliferate; some are kept with a bureaucratic stringency bordering on the absurd, while others are manipulated and ignored in ways that injure our sense of justice. Under what conditions should we make exceptions to rules, and when should they be followed despite particular circumstances? The two dominant models in the literature on rules are the particularist account and that which sees the application of rules as normative. Taking a position that falls between these two extremes, Alan Goldman provides a (...)
  31. added 2016-12-12
    Decision Space: Multidimensional Utility Analysis.Paul Weirich - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.
    In Decision Space: Multidimensional Utility Analysis, first published in 2001, Paul Weirich increases the power and versatility of utility analysis and in the process advances decision theory. Combining traditional and novel methods of option evaluation into one systematic method of analysis, multidimensional utility analysis is a valuable tool. It provides formulations of important decision principles, such as the principle to maximize expected utility; enriches decision theory in solving recalcitrant decision problems; and provides in particular for the cases in which an (...)
  32. added 2016-12-08
    Commanding Intentions and Prize-Winning Decisions.Randolph Clarke - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 133 (3):391-409.
    It is widely held that any justifying reason for making a decision must also be a justifying reason for doing what one thereby decides to do. Desires to win decision prizes, such as the one that figures in Kavka’s toxin puzzle, might be thought to be exceptions to this principle, but the principle has been defended in the face of such examples. Similarly, it has been argued that a command to intend cannot give one a justifying reason to intend as (...)
  33. added 2016-12-08
    Practical Reasoning and Ethical Decision.Robert Audi - 2005 - Routledge.
    Presenting the most comprehensive and lucid account of the topic currently available, Robert Audi's "Practical Reasoning and Ethical Decision" is essential reading for anyone interested in the role of reason in ethics or the nature of human action. The first part of the book is a detailed critical overview of the influential theories of practical reasoning found in Aristotle, Hume and Kant, whilst the second part examines practical reasoning in the light of important topics in moral psychology - weakness of (...)
  34. added 2016-12-08
    From the Act to the Decision.Andreas Kalyvas - 2004 - Political Theory 32 (3):320-346.
    There is much disagreement among many commentators of Hannah Arendt's work about whether her contributions to politics and philosophy contain a clandestine version of decisionism or, by contrast, represent an explicit attempt to break away from the elements of voluntarism, arbitrariness, and irrationality, which are considered to be inherent to any theory of the decision. Despite the many disagreements that set apart these two interpretations of Arendt, however, there is a common presupposition that both share. They are in agreement concerning (...)
  35. added 2016-12-08
    Are Decisions Motive-Perpetuating?J. Mintoff - 1999 - Analysis 59 (4):266-275.
    How should we understand the relation between decision-making and motivation? Thomas Pink has recently argued (Pink 1996) that decisions perpetuate pre-existing motives, and that whatever motivated the formation of a decision should, after that decision is taken, also motivate the action. In this article I argue that this view has certain problems, and that these problems can be solved if we assume instead that decisions are motive-generating.
  36. added 2016-12-08
    Choice and Virtue in the Nicomachean Ethics.Alfred R. Mele - 1981 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 19 (4):405-423.
    In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Choice and Virtue in the Nicomachean Ethics ALFRED R. MELE COM~rNTATORS ON THr Nicomachean Ethics (NE) have long been laboring under the influence of a serious misunderstanding of one of the key terms in Aristotle's moral philosophy and theory of action. This term is prohairesis (choice), the importance of which is indicated by Aristotle's assertions that choice is the proximate efficient cause of action (NE 6. 1139a31--32) and (...)
  37. added 2016-09-29
    Praktisch-ethische Entscheidungen unter Unsicherheit und Ungewissheit.Bernd Lahno & Hartmut Klient - 2011 - In Ralf Stoecker, Christian Neuheuser & Marie Luise Raters (eds.), Handbuch Angewandte Ethik. J.B. Metzler. pp. 198-113.
  38. added 2016-09-02
    Action and the Problem of Evil.Heine A. Holmen - 2015 - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 76 (4):335-351.
  39. added 2016-07-20
    Do Intentions Set Up Rational Defaults? Commitments, Reasons, and the Diachronic Dimension of Rationality.Jens Gillessen - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (1):29-64.
    Suppose that you do not do what you have previously decided to do. Are you to be charged with irrationality? A number of otherwise divergent theories of practical rationality hold that by default, you are; there are rational pressures, it is claimed, that favor the long-term stability and eventual execution of distal intentions. The article challenges this view by examining how these purported pressures can be spelled out. Is intention a normative commitment to act? Are intentions reasons for action – (...)
  40. added 2016-07-15
    The Rationality of Different Kinds of Intuitive Decision Processes.Marc Jekel, Andreas Glöckner, Susann Fiedler & Arndt Bröder - 2012 - Synthese 189 (S1):147-160.
    Whereas classic work in judgment and decision making has focused on the deviation of intuition from rationality, more recent research has focused on the performance of intuition in real-world environments. Borrowing from both approaches, we investigate to which extent competing models of intuitive probabilistic decision making overlap with choices according to the axioms of probability theory and how accurate those models can be expected to perform in real-world environments. Specifically, we assessed to which extent heuristics, models implementing weighted additive information (...)
  41. added 2016-07-15
    Self-Reference and the Acyclicity of Rational Choice.Haim Gaifman - 1999 - Annals of Pure and Applied Logic 96 (1-3):117-140.
    Self-reference in semantics, which leads to well-known paradoxes, is a thoroughly researched subject. The phenomenon can appear also in decision theoretic situations. There is a structural analogy between the two and, more interestingly, an analogy between principles concerning truth and those concerning rationality. The former can serve as a guide for clarifying the latter. Both the analogies and the disanalogies are illuminating.
  42. added 2016-07-15
    Judicial Decision and Practical Judgment.Morris Gall - 1947 - Journal of Philosophy 44 (2):51-52.
  43. added 2016-03-31
    Experiential Limitation in Judgment and Decision.Ulrike Hahn - 2014 - Topics in Cognitive Science 6 (2):229-244.
    The statistics of small samples are often quite different from those of large samples, and this needs to be taken into account in assessing the rationality of human behavior. Specifically, in evaluating human responses to environmental statistics, it is the effective environment that matters; that is, the environment actually experienced by the agent needs to be considered, not simply long-run frequencies. Significant deviations from long-run statistics may arise through experiential limitations of the agent that stem from resource constraints and/or information-processing (...)
  44. added 2016-03-31
    Review of R. Audi's «Practical Reasoning and Ethical Decision». [REVIEW]Andrei Zavaliy - 2011 - Analytica 5:87-93.
  45. added 2016-03-31
    Responsible Decision Making: Praxiology: The International Annual of Practical Philosophy and Methodology, Vol. 16.László Zsolnai - 2008 - Transaction Publishers.
    Introduction: Responsibility and choice -- The idea of moral responsibility -- Complex choice situations -- Differing types of responsibility -- Hans Jonas' idea of "caring for beings" -- The moral experience of women -- Criticizing rational choice -- The rational choice model 5 -- Bounded rationality -- Myopic and deficient choices -- Violations of the axioms -- Rational fools -- The strategic role of emotions -- Social norms -- The communitarian challenge -- Duty, self-interest, and love -- Responsible decision making (...)
  46. added 2016-03-31
    Thinking About Acting: Logical Foundations for Rational Decision Making.John L. Pollock - 2006 - Oxford University Press USA.
    John Pollock aims to construct a theory of rational decision making for real agents--not ideal agents. Pollock argues that theories of ideal rationality are largely irrelevant to the decision making of real agents. Thinking about Acting aims to provide a theory of "real rationality.".
  47. added 2016-03-31
    Deliberation as a Strategy in Conservation and Decision-Making.F. W. J. Keulartz, J. Swart & H. Windt - unknown
  48. added 2016-03-31
    The Analogy Between Decision and Inference.Cedric A. B. Smith - 1977 - Synthese 36 (1):71 - 85.
  49. added 2016-03-31
    Justice as an Object of Rational Decision.Edward Francis Mcclennen - 1968 - Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University
  50. added 2016-03-20
    Die 10 Gebote des gesunden Menschenverstands.Nikil Mukerji - 2017 - Springer.
    Dieses Buch erklärt anschaulich und lebensnah die zentralen Regeln vernünftigen Denkens – die 10 Gebote des gesunden Menschenverstands. Diese Regeln sind essentiell für jeden, der im Leben Erfolg haben möchte. Denn wer Erfolg haben will, muss klug entscheiden. Und wer klug entscheiden will, muss klar und vernünftig denken. Aber wie können Sie diese Fähigkeit entwickeln? Nikil Mukerji, Philosoph und Unternehmensberater, weiß Rat: Sie müssen zehn Regeln befolgen, die verblüffend einfach sind, aber sogar von intelligenten Menschen häufig verletzt werden: die 10 (...)
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