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  1. What Rationality Is.Arif Ahmed - manuscript
    A choice function C is rational iff: if it allows a path through a sequence of decisions with a particular outcome, then that outcome is amongst the ones that C would have chosen from amongst all the possible outcomes of the sequence. This implies, and it is the strongest definition that implies, that anyone who is irrational could be talked out of their own preferences. It also implies weak but non-vacuous constraints on choices over ends. These do not include alpha (...)
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  2. Maximizing, Satisficing and the Normative Distinction Between Means and Ends.Robert Bass - manuscript
    Decision theory, understood as providing a normative account of rationality in action, is often thought to be an adequate formalization of instrumental reasoning. As a model, there is much to be said for it. However, if decision theory is to adequately account for correct instrumental reasoning, then the axiomatic conditions by which it links preference to action must be normative for choice. That is, a choice must be rationally defective unless it proceeds from a preference set that satisfies the axiomatic (...)
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  3. We Are Optimizers: Re-Opening the Case for Rational Genuine Satisficing.Gary Goh - manuscript
    This paper critically reviews the arguments supporting rational genuine satisficing. The deconstructive effort unearths inherent problems with the position in both static and dynamic contexts. Many of these arguments build on Herbert Simon’s canonical arguments surrounding incommensurability and demandingness problems. Optimizing is re-constructed using the principles of instrumental satisficing to answer these charges. The resulting conception is both obviously undemanding and a recognizable response to focused decision making.
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  4. How To Be Rational: How to Think and Act Rationally.David Robert - manuscript
    This book is divided into 2 sections. In Section 1 (How to think rationally), I address how to acquire rational belief attitudes and, on that basis, I consider the question whether one ought to be skeptical of climate change. In Section 2 (How to act rationally), I address how to make rational choices and, on that basis, I consider the questions whether one is rationally required to do what one can to support life-extension medical research and, more broadly, whether one (...)
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  5. Expected Comparative Utility Theory: A New Theory of Rational Choice Under Risk.David Robert - manuscript
    In this paper, I argue for a new normative theory of rational choice under risk, namely expected comparative utility (ECU) theory. I first show that for any choice option, a, and for any state of the world, G, the measure of the choiceworthiness of a in G is the comparative utility (CU) of a in G—that is, the difference in utility, in G, between a and whichever alternative to a carries the greatest utility in G. On the basis of this (...)
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  6. Why You Should One-Box in Newcomb's Problem.Howard J. Simmons - manuscript
    I consider a familiar argument for two-boxing in Newcomb's Problem and find it defective because it involves a type of divergence from standard Baysian reasoning, which, though sometimes justified, conflicts with the stipulations of the Newcomb scenario. In an appendix, I also find fault with a different argument for two-boxing that has been presented by Graham Priest.
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  7. The Future Has Thicker Tails Than the Past: Model Error as Branching Counterfactuals.Nassim N. Taleb - manuscript
    Ex ante predicted outcomes should be interpreted as counterfactuals (potential histories), with errors as the spread between outcomes. But error rates have error rates. We reapply measurements of uncertainty about the estimation errors of the estimation errors of an estimation treated as branching counterfactuals. Such recursions of epistemic uncertainty have markedly different distributial properties from conventional sampling error, and lead to fatter tails in the projections than in past realizations. Counterfactuals of error rates always lead to fat tails, regardless of (...)
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  8. Rationality, Preference Satisfaction and Anomalous Intentions: Why Rational Choice Theory is Not Self-Defeating.Roberto Fumagalli - forthcoming - Theory and Decision.
    The critics of rational choice theory (henceforth, RCT) frequently claim that RCT is self-defeating in the sense that agents who abide by RCT’s prescriptions are less successful in satisfying their preferences than they would be if they abided by some normative theory of choice other than RCT. In this paper, I combine insights from philosophy of action, philosophy of mind and the normative foundations of RCT to rebut this often-made criticism. I then explicate the implications of my thesis for the (...)
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  9. The Intrinsic Value of Risky Prospects.Zeev Goldschmidt & Ittay Nissan-Rozen - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    We study the representation of attitudes to risk in Jeffrey’s decision-theoretic framework suggested by Stefánsson and Bradley :602–625, 2015; Br J Philos Sci 70:77–102, 2017) and Bradley :231–248, 2016; Decisions theory with a human face, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2017). We show that on this representation, the value of any prospect may be expressed as a sum of two components, the prospect’s instrumental value and the prospect’s intrinsic value. Both components have an expectational form. We also make a distinction between (...)
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  10. On the Interpretation of Decision Theory.Samir Okasha - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy:1-25.
  11. Folk Psychology and the Interpretation of Decision Theory.Johanna Thoma - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    Most philosophical decision theorists and philosophers of the social sciences believe that decision theory is and should be in the business of providing folk psychological explanations of choice behaviour, and that it can only do so if we understand the preferences, utilities and probabilities that feature in decision-theoretic models as ascriptions of mental states not reducible to choice. The behavioural interpretation of preference and related concepts, still common in economics, is consequently cast as misguided. This paper argues that even those (...)
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  12. In Defence of Revealed Preference Theory.Johanna Thoma - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy.
    This paper defends revealed preference theory against a pervasive line of criticism, according to which revealed preference methodology relies on appealing to some mental states, in particular an agent’s beliefs, rendering the project incoherent or unmotivated. I argue that all that is established by these arguments is that revealed preference theorists must accept a limited mentalism in their account of the options an agent should be modelled as choosing between. This is consistent both with an essentially behavioural interpretation of preference (...)
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  13. Less is More for Bayesians, Too.Gregory Wheeler - forthcoming - In Routledge Handbook on Bounded Rationality.
  14. Dewey's Independent Factors in Moral Action.Steven Fesmire - 2020 - In Roberto Frega & Steven Levine (eds.), John Dewey's Ethical Theory: The 1932 Ethics. New York and London: pp. 18-39.
    Drawing on unpublished and published sources from 1926 to 1932, this chapter analyzes “Three Independent Factors in Morals” (1930) as a blueprint to Dewey’s chapters in the 1932 Ethics. The 1930 presentation is Dewey’s most concise and sophisticated critique of the quest in ethical theory for the central and basic source of normative justification. He argued that moral situations are heterogeneous in their origins and operations. They elude full predictability and are not controllable by the impositions of any abstract monistic (...)
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  15. On the Individuation of Choice Options.Roberto Fumagalli - 2020 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 50 (4):338-365.
    Decision theorists have attempted to accommodate several violations of decision theory’s axiomatic requirements by modifying how agents’ choice options are individuated and formally represented. In recent years, prominent authors have worried that these modifications threaten to trivialize decision theory, make the theory unfalsifiable, impose overdemanding requirements on decision theorists, and hamper decision theory’s internal coherence. In this paper, I draw on leading descriptive and normative works in contemporary decision theory to address these prominent concerns. In doing so, I articulate and (...)
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  16. When Econs Are Human.John R. Welch - 2020 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (3):212-225.
    Econs are presumed to be unboundedly rational, while Humans are boundedly rational. Nevertheless, in certain conditions, Econs aiming to optimize would choose like Humans trying to satisfice. The conditions are imposed by Knightian uncertainty. Although expected utilities are incalculable in these conditions, an Econ could still optimize by relying on a comparative version of decision theory that takes inputs of comparative plausibility and desirability and produces outputs of plausibilistic expectation. The paper shows that comparative decision theory is a special case (...)
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  17. An Externalist Decision Theory for a Pragmatic Epistemology.Brian Kim - 2019 - In Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. Routledge.
    In recent years, some epistemologists have argued that practical factors can make the difference between knowledge and mere true belief. While proponents of this pragmatic thesis have proposed necessary and sufficient conditions for knowledge, it is striking that they have failed to address Gettier cases. As a result, the proposed analyses of knowledge are either lacking explanatory power or susceptible to counterexamples. Gettier cases are also worth reflecting on because they raise foundational questions for the pragmatist. Underlying these challenges is (...)
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  18. Measuring Belief and Risk Attitude.Sven Neth - 2019 - Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science 297:354–364.
    Ramsey (1926) sketches a proposal for measuring the subjective probabilities of an agent by their observable preferences, assuming that the agent is an expected utility maximizer. I show how to extend the spirit of Ramsey's method to a strictly wider class of agents: risk-weighted expected utility maximizers (Buchak 2013). In particular, I show how we can measure the risk attitudes of an agent by their observable preferences, assuming that the agent is a risk-weighted expected utility maximizer. Further, we can leverage (...)
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  19. Choosing for Changing Selves.Richard Pettigrew - 2019 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    What we value, like, endorse, want, and prefer changes over the course of our lives. Richard Pettigrew presents a theory of rational decision making for agents who recognise that their values will change over time and whose decisions will affect those future times.
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  20. Veritism, Epistemic Risk, and the Swamping Problem.Richard Pettigrew - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):761-774.
    Veritism says that the fundamental source of epistemic value for a doxastic state is the extent to which it represents the world correctly: that is, its fundamental epistemic value is deter...
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  21. Fixed-Point Solutions to the Regress Problem in Normative Uncertainty.Philip Trammell - 2019 - Synthese 198 (2):1177-1199.
    When we are faced with a choice among acts, but are uncertain about the true state of the world, we may be uncertain about the acts’ “choiceworthiness”. Decision theories guide our choice by making normative claims about how we should respond to this uncertainty. If we are unsure which decision theory is correct, however, we may remain unsure of what we ought to do. Given this decision-theoretic uncertainty, meta-theories attempt to resolve the conflicts between our decision theories...but we may be (...)
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  22. On the Instrumental Value of Hypothetical and Counterfactual Thought.Thomas Icard, Fiery Cushman & Joshua Knobe - 2018 - Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
  23. Libertà del volere – dalla filosofia teoretica alla filosofia pratica. Un dialogo con Sandro Nannini.Christoph Lumer - 2018 - In Christoph Lumer & Giacomo Romano (eds.), Libertà del volere – dalla filosofia teoretica alla filosofia pratica. Un dialogo con Sandro Nannini. Roma; Messina (Italy): corisco. pp. 53-84.
    The article, first, reconstructs and criticizes Sandro Nannini’s incompatibilistic concept of freedom of decision and, second, develops a compatibilistic alternative, a synthesis of a rationalistic and an autonomous approach. Nannini justifies his conception primarily from a naturalistic point of view: it reflects our sense of agency, so he says. This is criticized as empirically wrong and methodically mistaken: The theory of freedom of decision is, actually, normative; it is about good decisions; naturalism cannot establish normative claims. The alternative is based, (...)
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  24. Expected Comparative Utility Theory: A New Theory of Rational Choice.David Robert - 2018 - Philosophical Forum 49 (1):19-37.
    In this paper, I argue for a new normative theory of rational choice under risk, namely expected comparative utility (ECU) theory. I first show that for any choice option, a, and for any state of the world, G, the measure of the choiceworthiness of a in G is the comparative utility (CU) of a in G—that is, the difference in utility, in G, between a and whichever alternative to a carries the greatest utility in G. On the basis of this (...)
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  25. Descriptive Decision Theory.Jake Chandler - 2017 - The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.
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  26. What Matters and How It Matters: A Choice-Theoretic Representation of Moral Theories.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (4):421-479.
    We present a new “reason-based” approach to the formal representation of moral theories, drawing on recent decision-theoretic work. We show that any moral theory within a very large class can be represented in terms of two parameters: a specification of which properties of the objects of moral choice matter in any given context, and a specification of how these properties matter. Reason-based representations provide a very general taxonomy of moral theories, as differences among theories can be attributed to differences in (...)
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  27. Decision Theory.Lara Buchak - 2016 - In Christopher Hitchcock & Alan Hajek (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    Decision theory has at its core a set of mathematical theorems that connect rational preferences to functions with certain structural properties. The components of these theorems, as well as their bearing on questions surrounding rationality, can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Philosophy’s current interest in decision theory represents a convergence of two very different lines of thought, one concerned with the question of how one ought to act, and the other concerned with the question of what action consists (...)
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  28. Minds, Models, and Milieux: Commemorating the Centennial of the Birth of Herbert Simon.Roger Frantz & Leslie Marsh (eds.) - 2016 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
  29. Single-Peakedness and Semantic Dimensions of Preferences.Daniele Porello - 2016 - Logic Journal of the IGPL 24 (4).
    Among the possible solutions to the paradoxes of collective preferences, single-peakedness is significant because it has been associated to a suggestive conceptual interpretation: a single-peaked preference profile entails that, although individuals may disagree on which option is the best, they conceptualize the choice along a shared unique dimension, i.e. they agree on the rationale of the collective decision. In this article, we discuss the relationship between the structural property of singlepeakedness and its suggested interpretation as uni-dimensionality of a social choice. (...)
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  30. Bhagavad Gītā: The Dialectic of Four Moral Theories (Ethics-1, M08).Ranganathan Shyam - 2016 - In A. Raghuramaraju (ed.), Philosophy, E-PG Pathshala. Delhi: India, Department of Higher Education (NMEICT).
    This is the first of lessons on the Bhagavad Gītā. The Bhagavad Gītā is a small section of the Mahābhārata, which is a dialectical experiment in moral theory. Here the characters not only assume the role of prominent ethical theories, but must also work through the ethical challenge as a matter of practice. In this module I explicate the main arguments of the Gītā, which lead us from teleological accounts of ethics (Virtue Ethics, Consequentialism) to procedural accounts (Deontology and Bhakti). (...)
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  31. Revisiting Risk and Rationality: A Reply to Pettigrew and Briggs.Lara Buchak - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (5):841-862.
    I have claimed that risk-weighted expected utility maximizers are rational, and that their preferences cannot be captured by expected utility theory. Richard Pettigrew and Rachael Briggs have recently challenged these claims. Both authors argue that only EU-maximizers are rational. In addition, Pettigrew argues that the preferences of REU-maximizers can indeed be captured by EU theory, and Briggs argues that REU-maximizers lose a valuable tool for simplifying their decision problems. I hold that their arguments do not succeed and that my original (...)
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  32. Philosophy as Conceptual Engineering: Inductive Logic in Rudolf Carnap's Scientific Philosophy.Christopher F. French - 2015 - Dissertation, University of British Columbia
    My dissertation explores the ways in which Rudolf Carnap sought to make philosophy scientific by further developing recent interpretive efforts to explain Carnap’s mature philosophical work as a form of engineering. It does this by looking in detail at his philosophical practice in his most sustained mature project, his work on pure and applied inductive logic. I, first, specify the sort of engineering Carnap is engaged in as involving an engineering design problem and then draw out the complications of design (...)
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  33. Trans*Formative Experiences.Rachel McKinnon - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):419-440.
    What happens when we consider transformative experiences from the perspective of gender transitions? In this paper I suggest that at least two insights emerge. First, trans* persons’ experiences of gender transitions show some limitations to L.A. Paul’s (forthcoming) decision theoretic account of transformative decisions. This will involve exploring some of the phenomenology of coming to know that one is trans, and in coming to decide to transition. Second, what epistemological effects are there to undergoing a transformative experience? By connecting some (...)
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  34. Risk, Rationality and Expected Utility Theory.Richard Pettigrew - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (5-6):798-826.
    There are decision problems where the preferences that seem rational to many people cannot be accommodated within orthodox decision theory in the natural way. In response, a number of alternatives to the orthodoxy have been proposed. In this paper, I offer an argument against those alternatives and in favour of the orthodoxy. I focus on preferences that seem to encode sensitivity to risk. And I focus on the alternative to the orthodoxy proposed by Lara Buchak’s risk-weighted expected utility theory. I (...)
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  35. On Risk and Rationality.Brad Armendt - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S6):1-9.
    It is widely held that the influence of risk on rational decisions is not entirely explained by the shape of an agent’s utility curve. Buchak (Erkenntnis, 2013, Risk and rationality, Oxford University Press, Oxford, in press) presents an axiomatic decision theory, risk-weighted expected utility theory (REU), in which decision weights are the agent’s subjective probabilities modified by his risk-function r. REU is briefly described, and the global applicability of r is discussed. Rabin’s (Econometrica 68:1281–1292, 2000) calibration theorem strongly suggests that (...)
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  36. Risk and Tradeoffs.Lara Buchak - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S6):1091-1117.
    The orthodox theory of instrumental rationality, expected utility (EU) theory, severely restricts the way in which risk-considerations can figure into a rational individual's preferences. It is argued here that this is because EU theory neglects an important component of instrumental rationality. This paper presents a more general theory of decision-making, risk-weighted expected utility (REU) theory, of which expected utility maximization is a special case. According to REU theory, the weight that each outcome gets in decision-making is not the subjective probability (...)
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  37. The Locality and Globality of Instrumental Rationality: The Normative Significance of Preference Reversals.Brian Kim - 2014 - Synthese 191 (18):4353-4376.
    When we ask a decision maker to express her preferences, it is typically assumed that we are eliciting a pre-existing set of preferences. However, empirical research has suggested that our preferences are often constructed on the fly for the decision problem at hand. This paper explores the ramifications of this empirical research for our understanding of instrumental rationality. First, I argue that these results pose serious challenges for the traditional decision-theoretic view of instrumental rationality, which demands global coherence amongst all (...)
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  38. Just the Beginning for Ubuntu: Reply to Matolino and Kwindingwi.Thaddeus Metz - 2014 - South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (1):65-72.
    In an article titled ‘The end of ubuntu’ recently published in this journal, Bernard Matolino and Wenceslaus Kwindingwi argue that contemporary conditions in (South) Africa are such that there is no justification for appealing to an ethic associated with talk of ‘ubuntu’. They argue that political elites who invoke ubuntu do so in ways that serve nefarious functions, such as unreasonably narrowing discourse about how best to live, while the moral ideals of ubuntu are appropriate only for a bygone, pre-modern (...)
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  39. Individual Vs. Couple Behavior: An Experimental Investigation of Risk Preferences. [REVIEW]Mohammed Abdellaoui, Olivier L’Haridon & Corina Paraschiv - 2013 - Theory and Decision 75 (2):175-191.
    In this article, we elicit both individuals’ and couples’ preferences assuming prospect theory (PT) as a general theoretical framework for decision under risk. Our experimental method, based on certainty equivalents, allows to infer measurements of utility and probability weighting at the individual level and at the couple level. Our main results are twofold. First, risk attitude for couples is compatible with PT and incorporates deviations from expected utility similar to those found in individual decision making. Second, couples’ attitudes towards risk (...)
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  40. Risk and Rationality.Lara Buchak - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
    Lara Buchak sets out a new account of rational decision-making in the face of risk. She argues that the orthodox view is too narrow, and suggests an alternative, more permissive theory: one that allows individuals to pay attention to the worst-case or best-case scenario, and vindicates the ordinary decision-maker.
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  41. A Reason-Based Theory of Rational Choice.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2013 - Noûs 47 (1):104-134.
    There is a surprising disconnect between formal rational choice theory and philosophical work on reasons. The one is silent on the role of reasons in rational choices, the other rarely engages with the formal models of decision problems used by social scientists. To bridge this gap, we propose a new, reason-based theory of rational choice. At its core is an account of preference formation, according to which an agent’s preferences are determined by his or her motivating reasons, together with a (...)
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  42. Where Do Preferences Come From?Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2013 - International Journal of Game Theory 42 (3):613-637.
    Rational choice theory analyzes how an agent can rationally act, given his or her preferences, but says little about where those preferences come from. Preferences are usually assumed to be fixed and exogenously given. Building on related work on reasons and rational choice, we describe a framework for conceptualizing preference formation and preference change. In our model, an agent's preferences are based on certain "motivationally salient" properties of the alternatives over which the preferences are held. Preferences may change as new (...)
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  43. Foundations of Contemporary Revealed Preference Theory.D. Wade Hands - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (5):1081-1108.
    This paper examines methodological issues raised by revealed preference theory in economics: particularly contemporary revealed preference theory. The paper has three goals. First, to make the case that revealed preference theory is a broad research program in choice theory—not a single theory—and understanding this diversity is essential to any methodological analysis of the program. Second, to explore some of the existing criticisms of revealed preference theory in a way that emphasizes how the effectiveness of the critique depends on the particular (...)
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  44. The Limits of Unification for Theory Appraisal: A Case of Economics and Psychology.Michiru Nagatsu - 2013 - Synthese 190 (2):2267-2289.
    In this paper I examine Don Ross’s application of unificationism as a methodological criterion of theory appraisal in economics and cognitive science. Against Ross’s critique that explanations of the preference reversal phenomenon by the ‘heuristics and biases’ programme is ad hoc or ‘Ptolemaic’, I argue that the compatibility hypothesis, one of the explanations offerd by this programme, is theoretically and empirically well-motivated. A careful examination of this hypothesis suggests several strengths of a procedural approach to modelling cognitive processes underlying individual (...)
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  45. On the Elusive Notion of Meta-Agreement.Valeria Ottonelli & Daniele Porello - 2013 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 12 (1):68-92.
    Public deliberation has been defended as a rational and noncoercive way to overcome paradoxical results from democratic voting, by promoting consensus on the available alternatives on the political agenda. Some critics have argued that full consensus is too demanding and inimical to pluralism and have pointed out that single-peakedness, a much less stringent condition, is sufficient to overcome voting paradoxes. According to these accounts, deliberation can induce single-peakedness through the creation of a ‘meta-agreement’, that is, agreement on the dimension according (...)
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  46. Parametric Multi-Attribute Utility Functions for Optimal Profit Under Risk Constraints.Babacar Seck, Laetitia Andrieu & Michel De Lara - 2012 - Theory and Decision 72 (2):257-271.
    We provide an economic interpretation of the practice consisting in incorporating risk measures as constraints in an expected prospect maximization problem. For what we call the infimum of expectations class of risk measures, we show that if the decision maker (DM) maximizes the expectation of a random prospect under constraint that the risk measure is bounded above, he then behaves as a “generalized expected utility maximizer” in the following sense. The DM exhibits ambiguity with respect to a family of utility (...)
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  47. Risk-Adjusted Martingales and the Design of “Indifference” Gambles.Ali E. Abbas - 2011 - Theory and Decision 71 (4):643-668.
    In the probability literature, a martingale is often referred to as a “fair game.” A martingale investment is a stochastic sequence of wealth levels, whose expected value at any future stage is equal to the investor’s current wealth. In decision theory, a risk neutral investor would therefore be indifferent between holding on to a martingale investment, and receiving its payoff at any future stage, or giving it up and maintaining his current wealth. But a risk-averse decision maker would not be (...)
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  48. Does Reflection Lead to Wise Choices?Lisa Bortolotti - 2011 - Philosophical Explorations 14 (3):297-313.
    Does conscious reflection lead to good decision-making? Whereas engaging in reflection is traditionally thought to be the best way to make wise choices, recent psychological evidence undermines the role of reflection in lay and expert judgement. The literature suggests that thinking about reasons does not improve the choices people make, and that experts do not engage in reflection, but base their judgements on intuition, often shaped by extensive previous experience. Can we square the traditional accounts of wisdom with the results (...)
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  49. Representation Theorems and the Foundations of Decision Theory.Christopher J. G. Meacham & Jonathan Weisberg - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4):641 - 663.
    Representation theorems are often taken to provide the foundations for decision theory. First, they are taken to characterize degrees of belief and utilities. Second, they are taken to justify two fundamental rules of rationality: that we should have probabilistic degrees of belief and that we should act as expected utility maximizers. We argue that representation theorems cannot serve either of these foundational purposes, and that recent attempts to defend the foundational importance of representation theorems are unsuccessful. As a result, we (...)
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  50. Rational Choice Theory.Cedric Paternotte - 2011 - In I. Jarvie & J. Zamorra-Bonilla (eds.), Chapter 14 of The Sage Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science. Sage Publications. pp. 307.
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