Decision Theory

Edited by Rachael Briggs (Australian National University, Stanford University)
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  1. The Propagation of Suspension of Judgment. Or, Should We Confer Any Weight to Crucial Objections the Truth-Value of Which We Are Ignorant?Aldo Filomeno - forthcoming - Erkenntnis.
    It is not uncommon in the history of science and philosophy to encounter crucial experiments or crucial objections the truth-value of which we are ignorant, that is, about which we suspend judgment. Should we ignore such objections? Contrary to widespread practice, I show that in and only in some circumstances they should not be ignored, for the epistemically rational doxastic attitude is to suspend judgment also about the hypothesis that the objection targets. In other words, suspension of judgment "propagates" from (...)
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  2. Integrating Abduction and Inference to the Best Explanation.Michael J. Shaffer - forthcoming - European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy.
    Tomis Kapitan’s work on Peirce’s conception of abduction was instrumental for our coming to see how Peircean abduction both relates to and is importantly different from inference to the best explanation (IBE). However, he ultimately concluded that Peirce’s conception of abduction was a muddle. Despite the deeply problematic nature of Peirce’s theory of abduction in these respects, Kapitan’s work on Peircean abduction offers insight into the nature of abductive inquiry that is importantly relevant to the task of making sense of (...)
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  3. Moral Decision Guides: Counsels of Morality or Counsels of Rationality?Holly M. Smith - 2022 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 22 (1).
    In a two-tiered, or Dual Oughts, moral theory, the objective account of right and wrong is supplemented by decision guides designed to enable an agent, uncertain about the circumstances or consequences of her possible actions, to indirectly apply the objective theory by using an appropriate decision guide. But are the decision guides counsels of morality or counsels of rationality? Peter Graham argues they are counsels of pragmatic rationality. This paper shows Graham’s view is unsuccessful, and argues, based on the approach (...)
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  4. Prisoners of Prophecy: Freedom and Foreknowledge in the Dune Series.William Peden - forthcoming - In Dune and Philosophy: Mind, Monads and Muad’Dib.
    In the Dune Series, Frank Herbert explores the idea of prophecy. To be prescient seems to be empowered, but is this true? Can knowing the future trap us? Does knowledge of the future constrict our sense of being free agents? -/- These questions have also been explored by decision theorists and philosophers of action. Thus, this chapter provides an introduction to these fields aimed at fans of the Dune series. -/- I explain the Prisoner's Dilemma and how foreknowledge can trap (...)
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  5. Genericity and Inductive Inference.Henry Ian Schiller - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    We are often justified in acting on the basis of evidential confirmation. I argue that such evidence supports belief in non-quantificational generic generalizations, rather than universally quantified generalizations. I show how this account supports, rather than undermines, a Bayesian account of confirmation. Induction from confirming instances of a generalization to belief in the corresponding generic is part of a reasoning instinct that is typically (but not always) correct, and allows us to approximate the predictions that formal epistemology would make.
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  6. Questions in Action.Daniel Hoek - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy 119 (3):113-143.
    Choices confront us with questions. How we act depends on our answers to those questions. So the way our beliefs guide our choices is not just a function of their informational content, but also depends systematically on the questions those beliefs address. This paper gives a precise account of the interplay between choices, questions and beliefs, and harnesses this account to obtain a principled approach to the problem of deduction. The result is a novel theory of belief-guided action that explains (...)
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  7. Transformative Experience, Awareness Growth and the Limits of Rational Planning.Katie Steele & H. Orri Stefánsson - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-10.
    Laurie Paul (2014, 2015) argues that, when it comes to many of your most significant life-changing decisions, the principles of rational choice are silent. That is because, in these cases, you anticipate that one of your choice options would yield a transformative experience. We argue that the best way to make sense of transformative decisions is to see them as ones in which you anticipate awareness growth. You do not merely lack knowledge about which possible outcome will arise from a (...)
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  8. Risk Aversion Over Finite Domains.Jean Baccelli, Georg Schollmeyer & Christoph Jansen - forthcoming - Theory and Decision.
    We investigate risk attitudes when the underlying domain of payoffs is finite and the payoffs are, in general, not numerical. In such cases, the traditional notions of absolute risk attitudes, that are designed for convex domains of numerical payoffs, are not applicable. We introduce comparative notions of weak and strong risk attitudes that remain applicable. We examine how they are characterized within the rank-dependent utility model, thus including expected utility as a special case. In particular, we characterize strong comparative risk (...)
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  9. Expected Utility in 3D.Jean Baccelli - forthcoming - In Reflections on the Foundations of Statistics: Essays in Honor of Teddy Seidenfeld.
    Consider a subjective expected utility preference relation. It is usually held that the representations which this relation admits differ only in one respect, namely, the possible scales for the measurement of utility. In this paper, I discuss the fact that there are, metaphorically speaking, two additional dimensions along which infinitely many more admissible representations can be found. The first additional dimension is that of state-dependence. The second—and, in this context, much lesser-known—additional dimension is that of act-dependence. The simplest implication of (...)
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  10. Book Review of Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers by Cheryl Misak. [REVIEW]Jean Baccelli - 2021 - History of Political Economy 53: 949-951.
    A book review of Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers, by Cheryl Misak (OUP, 2020).
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  11. L’analyse axiomatique et l’attitude par rapport au risque.Jean Baccelli - 2016 - Revue Economique 2 (67):355-366.
    Cette note épistémologique porte sur le statut, en théorie de la décision, des concepts d’attitude par rapport au risque. A première vue, l’analyse axiomatique ne les exploite pas, ce qui reflète une certaine neutralité des modèles de décision au sujet de l’attitude par rapport au risque. Mais un examen plus poussé met en valeur la variation conditionnelle et le renforcement de l’attitude par rapport au risque, qui rattachent les concepts d’attitude par rapport au risque à l’analyse axiomatique.
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  12. Weakness of Will. The Limitations of Revealed Preference Theory.Aleksander Ostapiuk - 2022 - Acta Oeconomica 1 (72):1-23.
    The phenomenon of weakness of will – not doing what we perceive as the best action – is not recognized by neoclassical economics due to the axiomatic assumptions of the revealed preference theory (RPT) that people do what is best for them. However, present bias shows that people have different preferences over time. As they cannot be compared by the utility measurements, economists need to normatively decide between selves (short- versus long-term preferences). A problem is that neoclassical economists perceive RPT (...)
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  13. Art and Transformation.Antony Aumann - 2022 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1:1-19.
    Encounters with art can change us in ways both big and small. This paper focuses on one of the more dramatic cases. I argue that works of art can inspire what L. A. Paul calls transformations, classic examples of which include getting married, having a child, and undergoing a religious conversion. Two features distinguish transformations from other changes we undergo. First, they involve the discovery of something new. Second, they result in a change in our core preferences. These two features (...)
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  14. Explaining Free Will by Rational Abilities.Frank Hofmann - 2022 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 25 (2):283-297.
    In this paper I present an account of the rational abilities that make our decisions free. Following the lead of new dispositionalists, a leeway account of free decisions is developed, and the rational abilities that ground our abilities to decide otherwise are described in detail. A main result will be that the best account of the relevant rational abilities makes them two-way abilities: abilities to decide to do or not to do x in accordance with one’s apparent reasons. Dispositionalism about (...)
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  15. Actual Value in Decision Theory.Andrew Bacon - forthcoming - Analysis.
    Decision theory is founded on the principle that we ought to take the action that has the maximum expected value from among actions we are in a position to take. But prior to the notion of expected value is the notion of the actual value of that action: roughly, a measure of the good outcomes you would in fact procure if you were to take it. Surprisingly many decision theories operate without an analysis of actual value. I offer a definition (...)
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  16. Richard Bradley's Decision Theory with a Human Face. [REVIEW]Seamus Bradley - 2017 - BJPS Review of Books.
  17. Actions Embedded in Forms of Life.Margit Gaffal - 2016 - In Jesús Padilla Gálvez (ed.), Action, Decision-Making and Forms of Life. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. pp. 45-59.
    n this paper I propose that any action attained through education and for-mation is embedded in a person’s form of life. The experiences that one was exposed to in early socialisation are crucial for the construction of a form of life. Actions are not regarded as acts per se or solely conceived of as singular move-ments but they are linguistically introduced and practiced. Someone’s acting or behaving in a specific way becomes manifest in language. Individuals com-municate with each other through (...)
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  18. The Harsanyi-Rawls Debate: Political Philosophy as Decision Theory Under Uncertainty.Ramiro Ávila Peres - 2021 - Manuscrito 44 (2):89-127.
    Social decisions are often made under great uncertainty - in situations where political principles, and even standard subjective expected utility, do not apply smoothly. In the first section, we argue that the core of this problem lies in decision theory itself - it is about how to act when we do not have an adequate representation of the context of the action and of its possible consequences. Thus, we distinguish two criteria to complement decision theory under ignorance - Laplace’s principle (...)
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  19. Christianity & Science in Harmony?Robert W. P. Luk - 2021 - Science and Philosophy 9 (2):61-82.
    A worldview that does not involve religion or science seems to be incomplete. However, a worldview that includes both religion and science may arouse concern of incompatibility. This paper looks at the particular religion, Christianity, and proceeds to develop a worldview in which Christianity and Science are compatible with each other. The worldview may make use of some ideas of Christianity and may involve some author’s own ideas on Christianity. It is thought that Christianity and Science are in harmony in (...)
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  20. Pragmatic Arguments for Theism.Elizabeth Jackson - forthcoming - In John Greco, Tyler Dalton McNabb & Jonathan Fuqua (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Religious Epistemology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Traditional theistic arguments conclude that God exists. Pragmatic theistic arguments, by contrast, conclude that you ought to believe in God. The two most famous pragmatic theistic arguments are put forth by Blaise Pascal (1662) and William James (1896). Pragmatic arguments for theism can be summarized as follows: believing in God has significant benefits, and these benefits aren’t available for the unbeliever. Thus, you should believe in, or ‘wager on’, God. This article distinguishes between various kinds of theistic wagers, including finite (...)
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  21. Risco: modal ou probablístico?Gustavo Oliva de Oliveira - 2021 - In Valentinne Serpa, Vinícius Felipe Posselt, Bruna Diedrich & Darlan Lorenzetti (eds.), XXI SEMANA ACADÊMICA DO PPG EM FILOSOFIA DA PUCRS VOLUME II – FILOSOFIA MEDIEVAL / FEMINISMO / FILOSOFIA ANALÍTICA. Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil: pp. 125-140.
    The traditional conception of risk is probabilistic, according to which the degree of risk of an event is determined by the probability of its occurence. Recently this view was challenged by Duncan Pritchard (2015, 2016), who suggested a modal theory of risk, centered in the idea that the riskiness of events depends on the modal distance between the actual world and worlds where the event obtains. What is attractive about this theory, according to Pritchard, is that it explains our judgement (...)
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  22. Normative Formal Epistemology as Modelling.Joe Roussos - forthcoming - The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    I argue that normative formal epistemology (NFE) is best understood as modelling, in the sense that this is the reconstruction of its methodology on which NFE is doing best. I focus on Bayesianism and show that it has the characteristics of modelling. But modelling is a scientific enterprise, while NFE is normative. I thus develop an account of normative models on which they are idealised representations put to normative purposes. Normative assumptions, such as the transitivity of comparative credence, are characterised (...)
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  23. Tensed Facts and the Fittingness of Our Attitudes.Kristie Miller - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.
    We direct different attitudes towards states of affairs depending on where in time those states of affairs are located. Call this the type asymmetry. The type asymmetry appears fitting. For instance, it seems fitting to feel guilt or regret only about states of affairs that are past, and anticipation only of states of affairs that are future. It has been argued that the type asymmetry could only be fitting if there are tensed facts, and hence that since it is fitting, (...)
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  24. Can Redescriptions of Outcomes Salvage the Axioms of Decision Theory?Jean Baccelli & Philippe Mongin - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (5):1621-1648.
    The basic axioms or formal conditions of decision theory, especially the ordering condition put on preferences and the axioms underlying the expected utility formula, are subject to a number of counter-examples, some of which can be endowed with normative value and thus fall within the ambit of a philosophical reflection on practical rationality. Against such counter-examples, a defensive strategy has been developed which consists in redescribing the outcomes of the available options in such a way that the threatened axioms or (...)
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  25. Changing Use of Formal Methods in Philosophy: Late 2000s Vs. Late 2010s.Samuel C. Fletcher, Joshua Knobe, Gregory Wheeler & Brian Allan Woodcock - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):14555-14576.
    Traditionally, logic has been the dominant formal method within philosophy. Are logical methods still dominant today, or have the types of formal methods used in philosophy changed in recent times? To address this question, we coded a sample of philosophy papers from the late 2000s and from the late 2010s for the formal methods they used. The results indicate that the proportion of papers using logical methods remained more or less constant over that time period but the proportion of papers (...)
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  26. Wishing, Decision Theory, and Two-Dimensional Content.Kyle H. Blumberg - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophy.
    This paper is about two requirements on wish reports whose interaction motivates a novel semantics for these ascriptions. The first requirement concerns the ambiguities that arise when determiner phrases, e.g. definite descriptions, interact with `wish'. More specifically, several theorists have recently argued that attitude ascriptions featuring counterfactual attitude verbs license interpretations on which the determiner phrase is interpreted relative to the subject's beliefs. The second requirement involves the fact that desire reports in general require decision-theoretic notions for their analysis. The (...)
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  27. Editorial to “Decision Theory and the Future of AI”.Yang Liu, Stephan Hartmann & Huw Price - 2021 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 27):6413-6414.
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  28. A Battle in the Statistics Wars: A Simulation-Based Comparison of Bayesian, Frequentist and Williamsonian Methodologies.Mantas Radzvilas, William Peden & Francesco De Pretis - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):13689-13748.
    The debates between Bayesian, frequentist, and other methodologies of statistics have tended to focus on conceptual justifications, sociological arguments, or mathematical proofs of their long run properties. Both Bayesian statistics and frequentist (“classical”) statistics have strong cases on these grounds. In this article, we instead approach the debates in the “Statistics Wars” from a largely unexplored angle: simulations of different methodologies’ performance in the short to medium run. We conducted a large number of simulations using a straightforward decision problem based (...)
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  29. The Economics and Philosophy of Risk.H. Orri Stefansson - 2021 - In Conrad Heilmann & Julian Reiss (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Economics. Routledge.
    Neoclassical economists use expected utility theory to explain, predict, and prescribe choices under risk, that is, choices where the decision-maker knows---or at least deems suitable to act as if she knew---the relevant probabilities. Expected utility theory has been subject to both empirical and conceptual criticism. This chapter reviews expected utility theory and the main criticism it has faced. It ends with a brief discussion of subjective expected utility theory, which is the theory neoclassical economists use to explain, predict, and prescribe (...)
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  30. Risk Aversion and Elite-Group Ignorance.David Kinney & Liam Kofi Bright - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Critical race theorists and standpoint epistemologists argue that agents who are members of dominant social groups are often in a state of ignorance about the extent of their social dominance, where this ignorance is explained by these agents' membership in a socially dominant group (e.g., Mills 2007). To illustrate this claim bluntly, it is argued: 1) that many white men do not know the extent of their social dominance, 2) that they remain ignorant as to the extent of their dominant (...)
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  31. Decision-Making as an Orientation Skill in Poker and Everyday Life: Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets and the Philosophy of Orientation.Reinhard G. Mueller - 2020 - Orientation Skills in Everyday and Professional Life.
    This essay investigates, via the concepts of the philosophy of orientation, Annie Duke’s decision-making theory in "Thinking in Bets" and scrutinizes as to what extent one can universalize the 'orientation skill' of decision-making with regard to our everyday and professional life.
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  32. World Domination in Decision Theory and Formal Epistemology.Stephen Yablo - manuscript
  33. The Fundamental Unity Of Voluntary And Involuntary Actions.Aadarsh Singh - manuscript
    Social structure of our society decides the actions that are allowed by any individual human being. All the actions of an individual are characterized into voluntary or involuntary actions, which decides the behaviour of society towards that individual for that action. In this paper it has been shown that the characterization of action into these two categories is fundamentally flawed.
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  34. Philosophy and Digitization: Dangers and Possibilities in the New Digital Worlds.Esther Oluffa Pedersen & Maria Brincker - 2021 - SATS 22 (1):1-9.
    Our world is under going an enormous digital transformation. Nearly no area of our social, informational, political, economic, cultural, and biological spheres are left unchanged. What can philosophy contribute as we try to under- stand and think through these changes? How does digitization challenge past ideas of who we are and where we are headed? Where does it leave our ethical aspirations and cherished ideals of democracy, equality, privacy, trust, freedom, and social embeddedness? Who gets to decide, control, and harness (...)
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  35. Intention: Hyperintensional Semantics and Decision Theory.Hasen Khudairi - manuscript
    This paper argues that the types of intention can be modeled both as modal operators and via a multi-hyperintensional semantics. I delineate the semantic profiles of the types of intention, and provide a precise account of how the types of intention are unified in virtue of both their operations in a single, encompassing, epistemic space, and their role in practical reasoning. I endeavor to provide reasons adducing against the proposal that the types of intention are reducible to the mental states (...)
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  36. Exploring the Limits of Decision Theory, or Refuting It?: José Luis Bermúdez: Frame It Again: New Tools for Rational Decision-Making. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021, 340 Pp, $24.95 HB. [REVIEW]Annemarie Kalis - 2021 - Metascience 30 (3):341-344.
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  37. No Fact of the Middle.Justin Khoo - forthcoming - Noûs.
    A middle fact is a true proposition about what would have happened had A been true (where A is in fact false), whose truth isn't entailed by any non-counterfactual facts. I argue that there are no middle facts; if there were, we wouldn't know them, and our ignorance of them would result in ignorance about whether regret is fitting in cases where we clearly know it is. But there's a problem. Consider an unflipped fair coin which is such that no (...)
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  38. Choosing for Changing Selves. [REVIEW]David Strohmaier - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (3):675-678.
    Choosing for Changing Selves. By Pettigrew, Richard.
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  39. 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 tackle decision-making under severe uncertainty with multiple models, and we illustrate the approach with a case study: insurance pricing using hurricane models. The confidence approach has important consequences for this case and offers a powerful framework for a wide class of problems. We end by discussing different ways in which model ensembles can feed information (...)
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  40. Local Explanations Via Necessity and Sufficiency: Unifying Theory and Practice.David Watson, Limor Gultchin, Taly Ankur & Luciano Floridi - 2022 - Minds and Machines 32:185-218.
    Necessity and sufficiency are the building blocks of all successful explanations. Yet despite their importance, these notions have been conceptually underdeveloped and inconsistently applied in explainable artificial intelligence (XAI), a fast-growing research area that is so far lacking in firm theoretical foundations. Building on work in logic, probability, and causality, we establish the central role of necessity and sufficiency in XAI, unifying seemingly disparate methods in a single formal framework. We provide a sound and complete algorithm for computing explanatory factors (...)
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  41. Guard Against Temptation: Intrapersonal Team Reasoning and the Role of Intentions in Exercising Willpower.Natalie Gold - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Sometimes we make a decision about an action we will undertake later and form an intention, but our judgment of what it is best to do undergoes a temporary shift when the time for action comes round. What makes it rational not to give in to temptation? Many contemporary solutions privilege diachronic rationality; in some “rational non-reconsideration” (RNR) accounts once the agent forms an intention, it is rational not to reconsider. This leads to other puzzles: how can someone be motivated (...)
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  42. 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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  43. 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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  44. 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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  45. De l'Optimisme.Olivier Massin - 2019 - Chroniques Universitaires 2019:58-73.
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  46. 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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  47. The 'Unified' Background.Ilexa Yardley - 2021 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory.
  48. 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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  49. 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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  50. 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.
1 — 50 / 3990