Decision Theory

Edited by Rachael Briggs (Australian National University, Stanford University)
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  1. Making Confident Decisions with Model Ensembles.Joe Roussos, Richard Bradley & Roman Frigg - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (3):439-460.
    Many policy decisions take input from collections of scientific models. Such decisions face significant and often poorly understood uncertainty. We rework the so-called confidence approach to tackl...
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  2. Continuity and Catastrophic Risk.H. Orri Stefansson - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy.
    Suppose that a decision-maker's aim, under certainty, is to maximise some continuous value, such as lifetime income or continuous social welfare. Can such a decision-maker rationally satisfy what has been called "continuity for easy cases" while at the same time satisfying what seems to be a widespread intuition against the full-blown continuity axiom of expected utility theory? In this note I argue that the answer is "no": given transitivity and a weak trade-off principle, continuity for easy cases violates the anti-continuity (...)
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  3. Is “Willpower” a Scientific Concept? Suppressing Temptation Contra Resolution in the Face of Adversity.Elias L. Khalil - 2021 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 44.
    The distinction that Ainslie draws among the triple-phenomena “suppression,” “resolve,” and “habit” is a great advance in decision making theory. But the conceptual machinery “willpower,” and its underpinning distinction between small/soon rewards as opposed to large/later rewards, provides a faulty framework to understand the triple-phenomena.
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  4. Beyond Uncertainty: Reasoning with Unknown Possibilities.Katie Steele & H. Orri Stefánsson - 2021 - Cambridge University Press.
    The main aim of this book is to introduce the topic of limited awareness, and changes in awareness, to those interested in the philosophy of decision-making and uncertain reasoning. (This is for the series Elements of Decision Theory published by Cambridge University Press and edited by Martin Peterson).
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  5. Decision Theory and Morality.James Dreier - 2004 - In Alfred R. Mele & Piers Rawling (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Rationality. Oup Usa.
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  6. De l'Optimisme.Olivier Massin - 2019 - Chroniques Universitaires 2019:58-73.
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  7. Against Methodological Gambling.Borut Trpin - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    Should a scientist rely on methodological triangulation? Heesen et al. (Synthese 196(8):3067–3081, 2019) recently provided a convincing affirmative answer. However, their approach requires belief gambles if the evidence is discordant. We instead propose epistemically modest triangulation (EMT), according to which one should withhold judgement in such cases. We show that for a scientist in a methodologically diffident situation the expected utility of EMT is greater than that of Heesen et al.’s (2019) triangulation or that of using a single method. We (...)
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  8. The 'Unified' Background.Ilexa Yardley - 2021 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory.
    Why 'social' media 'upsets' us. What is in your 'mind' and, why? The 'unified' background is an uber-simple circle.
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  9. On the Recent Philosophy of Decision Theory.Ivan Moscati - 2020 - Journal of Economic Methodology 28 (1):98-106.
    In the philosophy of economics, the last fifteen years have witnessed an intense discussion about the epistemological status of economic models of decision making and their theoretical components,...
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  10. Decision-Theoretic and Risk-Based Approaches to Naked Statistical Evidence: Some Consequences and Challenges.Rafal Urbaniak, Alicja Kowalewska, Pavel Janda & Patryk Dziurosz-Serafinowicz - 2020 - Law, Probability and Risk 19 (1):67-83.
    In the debate about the legal value of naked statistical evidence, Di Bello argues that (1) the likelihood ratio of such evidence is unknown, (2) the decision-theoretic considerations indicate that a conviction based on such evidence is unacceptable when expected utility maximization is combined with fairness constraints, and (3) the risk of mistaken conviction based on such evidence cannot be evaluated and is potentially too high. We argue that Di Bello’s argument for (1) works in a rather narrow context, and (...)
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  11. Measuring Utility: From the Marginal Revolution to Behavioral Economics, Ivan Moscati. Oxford University Press, 2019, Vii + 326 Pages. [REVIEW]Catherine Herfeld - 2021 - Economics and Philosophy 37 (1):144-150.
  12. Do We Really Need a Knowledge-Based Decision Theory?Davide Fassio & Jie Gao - forthcoming - Synthese:1-29.
    The paper investigates what type of motivation can be given for adopting a knowledge-based decision theory (hereafter, KBDT). KBDT seems to have several advantages over competing theories of rationality. It is commonly argued that this theory would naturally fit with the intuitive idea that being rational is doing what we take to be best given what we know, an idea often supported by appeal to ordinary folk appraisals. Moreover, KBDT seems to strike a perfect balance between the problematic extremes of (...)
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  13. Pascal's Mugger Strikes Again.Dylan Balfour - 2021 - Utilitas 33 (1):118-124.
    In a well-known paper, Nick Bostrom presents a confrontation between a fictionalised Blaise Pascal and a mysterious mugger. The mugger persuades Pascal to hand over his wallet by exploiting Pascal's commitment to expected utility maximisation. He does so by offering Pascal an astronomically high reward such that, despite Pascal's low credence in the mugger's truthfulness, the expected utility of accepting the mugging is higher than rejecting it. In this article, I present another sort of high value, low credence mugging. This (...)
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  14. Decisions with Multiple Objectives.Ralph Keeney & Howard Raiffa - 1976 - New York: Wiley.
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  15. Psychometric Evaluation of the Chinese Version of the Decision Regret Scale.Richard Huan Xu, Ling Ming Zhou, Eliza Laiyi Wong, Dong Wang & Jing Hui Chang - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
    Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the psychometric properties of the Chinese version of the decision regret scale. Methods: The data of 704 patients who completed the DRSc were used for the analyses. We evaluated the construct, convergent/discriminant, and known-group validity; internal consistency and test–retest reliability; and the item invariance of the DRSc. A receiver operating characteristic curve was employed to confirm the optimal cutoff point of the scale. Results: A confirmatory factor analysis indicated that a one-factor (...)
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  16. The Tragedy of the Risk Averse.H. Orri Stefánsson - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    Those who are risk averse with respect to money, and thus turn down some gambles with positive monetary expectations, are nevertheless often willing to accept bundles involving multiple such gambles. Therefore, it might seem that such people should become more willing to accept a risky but favourable gamble if they put it in context with the collection of gambles that they predict they will be faced with in the future. However, it turns out that when a risk averse person adopts (...)
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  17. Fragmentation and Logical Omniscience.Adam Elga & Agustin Rayo - forthcoming - Noûs.
    It would be good to have a Bayesian decision theory that assesses our decisions and thinking according to everyday standards of rationality — standards that do not require logical omniscience (Garber 1983, Hacking 1967). To that end we develop a “fragmented” decision theory in which a single state of mind is represented by a family of credence functions, each associated with a distinct choice condition (Lewis 1982, Stalnaker 1984). The theory imposes a local coherence assumption guaranteeing that as an agent's (...)
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  18. Weighing and Aggregating Reasons Under Uncertainty: A Trilemma.Ittay Nissan-Rozen - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    I discuss the trilemma that consists of the following three principles being inconsistent: 1. The Common Principle: if one distribution, A, necessarily brings a higher total sum of personal value that is distributed in a more egalitarian way than another distribution, B, A is more valuable than B. 2. (Weak) ex-ante Pareto: if one uncertain distribution, A, is more valuable than another uncertain distribution, B, for each patient, A is more valuable than B. 3. Pluralism about attitudes to risk (Pluralism): (...)
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  19. Policymaking Under Scientific Uncertainty.Joe Roussos - 2020 - Dissertation, London School of Economics
    Policymakers who seek to make scientifically informed decisions are constantly confronted by scientific uncertainty and expert disagreement. This thesis asks: how can policymakers rationally respond to expert disagreement and scientific uncertainty? This is a work of non-ideal theory, which applies formal philosophical tools developed by ideal theorists to more realistic cases of policymaking under scientific uncertainty. I start with Bayesian approaches to expert testimony and the problem of expert disagreement, arguing that two popular approaches— supra-Bayesianism and the standard model of (...)
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  20. Rational Choice Using Imprecise Probabilities and Utilities.Paul Weirich - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    An agent often does not have precise probabilities or utilities to guide resolution of a decision problem. I advance a principle of rationality for making decisions in such cases. To begin, I represent the doxastic and conative state of an agent with a set of pairs of a probability assignment and a utility assignment. Then I support a decision principle that allows any act that maximizes expected utility according to some pair of assignments in the set. Assuming that computation of (...)
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  21. How Thin Rational Choice Theory Explains Choices.Roberto Fumagalli - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 83:63-74.
    The critics of rational choice theory (RCT) frequently build on the contrast between so-called thick and thin applications of RCT to argue that thin RCT lacks the potential to explain the choices of real-world agents. In this paper, I draw on often-cited RCT applications in several decision sciences to demonstrate that despite this prominent critique there are at least two different senses in which thin RCT can explain real-world agents’ choices. I then defend this thesis against the most influential objections (...)
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  22. Regret Averse Opinion Aggregation.Lee Elkin - forthcoming - Ergo.
    It is often suggested that when opinions differ among individuals in a group, the opinions should be aggregated to form a compromise. This paper compares two approaches to aggregating opinions, linear pooling and what I call opinion agglomeration. In evaluating both strategies, I propose a pragmatic criterion, No Regrets, entailing that an aggregation strategy should prevent groups from buying and selling bets on events at prices regretted by their members. I show that only opinion agglomeration is able to satisfy the (...)
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  23. Reasoning In Versus About Attitudes: How Attitude Formation is Beyond Logic.Franz Dietrich & Antonios Staras - manuscript
    One reasons not just in beliefs, but also in intentions, preferences, and other attitudes. For instance, one forms preferences from preferences, or intentions from beliefs and preferences. Formal logic has proved useful for modelling reasoning in beliefs -- the formation of beliefs from beliefs. Can logic also model reasoning in multiple attitudes? We identify principled obstacles. Logic can model reasoning about attitudes. But this models the discovery of attitudes of (usually) others, not the formation of one's own attitudes. Beliefs are (...)
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  24. Money Pump with Foresight.Wlodek Rabinowicz - 2000 - In Value and Choice : Some Common Themes in Decision Theory and Moral Philosophy. pp. 201-234.
    I describe in section 1 how cyclical preferences can arise. In section 2, I relate preference to judgments of choiceworthiness and distinguish between two kinds of preference cycles, vicious and benign. In section 3, I run through the standard money pump in order to show, in section 4, how this pump can be stopped by foresight, using backward induction. A new money pump that *cannot* be stopped by foresight is presented in section 5. This pump works even for agents with (...)
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  25. Philosophy of Language for Decision Theory Part 2: Indexicals and Vagueness.Anna Mahtani - 2017 - Lse Philosophy Blog.
    In her second post in this series, Anna Mahtani explores the parallels between philosophy of language and decision theory’s treatment of indexicals and vagueness.
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  26. Moral Uncertainty.William MacAskill, Krister Bykvist & Toby Ord - 2020 - Oxford University Press.
    How should we make decisions when we're uncertain about what we ought, morally, to do? Decision-making in the face of fundamental moral uncertainty is underexplored terrain: MacAskill, Bykvist, and Ord argue that there are distinctive norms by which it is governed, and which depend on the nature of one's moral beliefs.
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  27. In Favor of Mentalism in Economics: A Conversation with Christian List.Christian List & Catherine Herfeld - forthcoming - In Catherine Herfeld (ed.), Conversations on Rational Choice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    This is an edited transcript of a conversation to be included in the collection "Conversations on Rational Choice". The conversation was conducted in Munich on 7 and 9 February 2016.
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  28. Self-Control, Decision Theory, and Rationality – New Essays.James D. Grayot - 2020 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (2):184-189.
    Volume 27, Issue 2, June 2020, Page 184-189.
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  29. I Knew I Shouldn’T Do It; But I Did It: Davidson on Causal Strength and Weakness of Will.Rafael Martins - 2019 - Investigação Filosófica 10 (2):05-20.
    Reasons for action is a widely employed methodology in practical philosophy, and especially in moral philosophy. Reasons are facts that explain and justify actions. But, conceptually, if reasons were causes, incontinent actions would be impossible. When an agent ranks an evaluation about what to do as his best judgement, it entails that he has a reason for acting as that judgement prescribes. But when an agent acts incontinently, he acts in accordance to an intention that is not aligned with his (...)
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  30. Richard Bradley, "Decision Theory with a Human Face.". [REVIEW]William John Peden - 2020 - Philosophy in Review 40 (1):4-6.
    A non-expert who struggles to make good decisions and who turns to decision theory for help, might be more than a little surprised by what they find. If they read a standard treatment of the subject, they will find that they are assumed to be logically omniscient: they know all the logical facts about the propositions whose truth they have considered. Their beliefs are also assumed to be logically closed: if they believe each of a set of propositions S, then (...)
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  31. The Normative Decision Theory in Economics: A Philosophy of Science Perspective. The Case of the Expected Utility Theory.Magdalena Małecka - 2019 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (1):36-50.
    This article analyses how normative decision theory is understood by economists. The paradigmatic example of normative decision theory, discussed in the article, is the expected utility theory. It...
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  32. Incomplete Preference and Indeterminate Comparative Probability.Yang Liu - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axaa009.
    The notion of comparative probability defined in Bayesian subjectivist theory stems from an intuitive idea that, for a given pair of events, one event may be considered “more probable” than the other. Yet it is conceivable that there are cases where it is indeterminate as to which event is more probable, due to, e.g., lack of robust statistical information. We take that these cases involve indeterminate comparative probabilities. This paper provides a Savage-style decision-theoretic foundation for indeterminate comparative probabilities.
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  33. Being Rational and Being Right.Juan Comesaña - 2020 - Oxford University Press.
  34. Життєвий цикл соціально-економічних систем.Sergii Sardak - 2016 - Маркетинг І Менеджмент Інновацій 1:157-169.
    У статті розглянуто ознаки системи, особливості соціально-економічних систем та системного підходу. Враховано вплив аксіоматики, закономірностей та законів на розвиток систем. Досліджено циклічні закономірності у різнорівневих соціально-економічних системах. Визначено проблемно-дискусійні питання та спільні системні ознаки циклічності. Ідентифіковано структуру життєвого циклу соціально-економічної системи із визначенням загальних та конкретних складових елементів повторюваних змін за позасистемними та системними показниками.
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  35. A Broomean Model of Rationality and Reasoning.Franz Dietrich, Antonios Staras & Robert Sugden - 2019 - Journal of Philosophy 116 (11):585-614.
    John Broome has developed an account of rationality and reasoning which gives philosophical foundations for choice theory and the psychology of rational agents. We formalize his account into a model that differs from ordinary choice-theoretic models through focusing on psychology and the reasoning process. Within that model, we ask Broome’s central question of whether reasoning can make us more rational: whether it allows us to acquire transitive preferences, consistent beliefs, non-akratic intentions, and so on. We identify three structural types of (...)
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  36. Why Be Random?Thomas Icard - forthcoming - Mind:fzz065.
    When does it make sense to act randomly? A persuasive argument from Bayesian decision theory legitimizes randomization essentially only in tie-breaking situations. Rational behaviour in humans, non-human animals, and artificial agents, however, often seems indeterminate, even random. Moreover, rationales for randomized acts have been offered in a number of disciplines, including game theory, experimental design, and machine learning. A common way of accommodating some of these observations is by appeal to a decision-maker’s bounded computational resources. Making this suggestion both precise (...)
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  37. Between Heteronomy and Authonomy. The Presage of Intention.Elisa Grimi - 2017 - Dialegesthai. Rivista Telematica di Filosofia 19 (Special Issue, Moral Heteronomy.).
  38. “Cheating Death in Damascus” Solution to the Fermi Paradox.Alexey Turchin & Roman Yampolskiy - manuscript
    One of the possible solutions of the Fermi paradox is that all civilizations go extinct because they hit some Late Great Filter. Such a universal Late Great Filter must be an unpredictable event that all civilizations unexpectedly encounter, even if they try to escape extinction. This is similar to the “Death in Damascus” paradox from decision theory. However, this unpredictable Late Great Filter could be escaped by choosing a random strategy for humanity’s future development. However, if all civilizations act randomly, (...)
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  39. Decision Theory (and a Little of That Human Touch). [REVIEW]Timothy Luke Williamson - 2019 - Metascience 28 (2):265-268.
    Review of Richard Bradley's Decision Theory with a Human Face.
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  40. Becoming Someone New: Essays on Transformative Experience, Choice, and Change.John Schwenkler & Enoch Lambert (eds.) - 2020 - Oxford University Press.
    This volume brings together philosophers and psychologists to investigate the phenomenon of transformative change and a host of fascinating questions it prompts. Taking their departure from seminal work on transformative choice and experience by L. A. Paul and Edna Ullmann-Margalit, the authors pursue fundamental questions concerning the nature of rationality, the limits of the imagination, and the metaphysics of the self. They also strike out into new areas, including value theory, aesthetics, moral and political philosophy. Several chapters present the results (...)
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  41. Deception (Under Uncertainty) as a Kind of Manipulation.Vladimir Krstić & Chantelle Saville - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):830-835.
    In his 2018 AJP paper, Shlomo Cohen hints that deception could be a distinct subset of manipulation. We pursue this thought further, but by arguing that Cohen’s accounts of deception and manipulation are incorrect. Deception under uncertainty need not involve adding false premises to the victim’s reasoning but it must involve manipulating her response, and cases of manipulation that do not interfere with the victim’s reasoning, but rather utilize it, also exist. Therefore, deception under uncertainty must be constituted by covert (...)
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  42. Decision Theory with a Human Face. [REVIEW]David Strohmaier - 2019 - Philosophical Psychology 32 (3):432-435.
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  43. Philosophy of Language for Decision Theory Part 2: Indexicals and Vagueness.Anna Mahtani - 2017 - LSE Philosophy Blog.
    In her second post in this series, Anna Mahtani explores the parallels between philosophy of language and decision theory’s treatment of indexicals and vagueness.
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  44. Philosophy of Language for Decision Theory Part 1: Credences and Preferences.Anna Mahtani - 2017 - Lse Philosophy Blog.
    Decision theorists and philosophers of language have a lot to learn from one another. In the first of this two-part series, Anna Mahtani looks at the use and interpretation of credences and preferences.
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  45. A Counterexample to Three Imprecise Decision Theories.Seamus Bradley - 2019 - Theoria 85 (1):18-30.
    There is currently much discussion about how decision making should proceed when an agent's degrees of belief are imprecise; represented by a set of probability functions. I show that decision rules recently discussed by Sarah Moss, Susanna Rinard and Rohan Sud all suffer from the same defect: they all struggle to rationalize diachronic ambiguity aversion. Since ambiguity aversion is among the motivations for imprecise credence, this suggests that the search for an adequate imprecise decision rule is not yet over.
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  46. An Intrapersonal Addition Paradox.Jacob M. Nebel - 2019 - Ethics 129 (2):309-343.
    I present a new argument for the repugnant conclusion. The core of the argument is a risky, intrapersonal analogue of the mere addition paradox. The argument is important for three reasons. First, some solutions to Parfit’s original puzzle do not obviously generalize to the intrapersonal puzzle in a plausible way. Second, it raises independently important questions about how to make decisions under uncertainty for the sake of people whose existence might depend on what we do. And, third, it suggests various (...)
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  47. On the Limits of the Precautionary Principle.H. Orri Stefansson - 2019 - Risk Analysis 39 (6):1204-1222.
    The Precautionary Principle (PP) is an influential principle of risk management. It has been widely introduced into environmental legislation, and it plays an important role in most international environmental agreements. Yet, there is little consensus on precisely how to understand and formulate the principle. In this paper I prove some impossibility results for two plausible formulations of the PP as a decision-rule. These results illustrate the difficulty in making the PP consistent with the acceptance of any trade-offs between catastrophic risks (...)
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  48. A Simpler and More Realistic Subjective Decision Theory.Haim Gaifman & Yang Liu - 2018 - Synthese 195 (10):4205--4241.
    In his classic book “the Foundations of Statistics” Savage developed a formal system of rational decision making. The system is based on (i) a set of possible states of the world, (ii) a set of consequences, (iii) a set of acts, which are functions from states to consequences, and (iv) a preference relation over the acts, which represents the preferences of an idealized rational agent. The goal and the culmination of the enterprise is a representation theorem: Any preference relation that (...)
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  49. Ramsey and Joyce on Deliberation and Prediction.Yang Liu & Huw Price - 2020 - Synthese 197:4365-4386.
    Can an agent deliberating about an action A hold a meaningful credence that she will do A? 'No', say some authors, for 'Deliberation Crowds Out Prediction' (DCOP). Others disagree, but we argue here that such disagreements are often terminological. We explain why DCOP holds in a Ramseyian operationalist model of credence, but show that it is trivial to extend this model so that DCOP fails. We then discuss a model due to Joyce, and show that Joyce's rejection of DCOP rests (...)
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  50. Making Uncertainties Explicit: The Jeffreyan Value-Free Ideal and its Limits.David M. Frank - 2017 - In Kevin C. Elliott & Ted Richards (eds.), Exploring Inductive Risk. New York, NY, USA:
    According to Richard Jeffrey’s value-free ideal, scientists should avoid making value judgments about inductive risks by offering explicit representations of scientific uncertainty to decision-makers, who can use these to make decisions according to their own values. Some philosophers have responded by arguing that higher-order inductive risks arise in the process of producing representations of uncertainty. This chapter explores this line of argument and its limits, arguing that the Jeffreyan value-free ideal is achievable in contexts where methodological decisions introduce minimal higher-order (...)
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