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Decision Theory and Rationality

Oxford University Press (2009)

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  1. Must Rational Intentions Maximize Utility?Ralph Wedgwood - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (sup2):73-92.
    Suppose that it is rational to choose or intend a course of action if and only if the course of action maximizes some sort of expectation of some sort of value. What sort of value should this definition appeal to? According to an influential neo-Humean view, the answer is “Utility”, where utility is defined as a measure of subjective preference. According to a rival neo-Aristotelian view, the answer is “Choiceworthiness”, where choiceworthiness is an irreducibly normative notion of a course of (...)
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  • In Defence of Revealed Preference Theory.Johanna Thoma - 2021 - Economics and Philosophy 37 (2):163-187.
    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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  • Preferences, Reasoning Errors, and Resource Egalitarianism.Alexandru Volacu - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (8):1851-1870.
    In this paper I aim to examine some problematic implications of the fact that individuals are prone to making systematic reasoning errors, for resource egalitarianism. I begin by disentangling the concepts of preferences, choices and ambitions, which are sometimes used interchangeably by egalitarians. Subsequently, I claim that the most plausible interpretation of resource egalitarianism takes preferences, not choices, as the site of responsibility. This distinction is salient, since preference-sensitive resource egalitarianism is faced with an important objection when applied to situations (...)
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  • Rational monism and rational pluralism.Jack Spencer - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (6):1769-1800.
    Consequentialists often assume rational monism: the thesis that options are always made rationally permissible by the maximization of the selfsame quantity. This essay argues that consequentialists should reject rational monism and instead accept rational pluralism: the thesis that, on different occasions, options are made rationally permissible by the maximization of different quantities. The essay then develops a systematic form of rational pluralism which, unlike its rivals, is capable of handling both the Newcomb problems that challenge evidential decision theory and the (...)
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  • Utility and Language Generation: The Case of Vagueness.Kees van Deemter - 2009 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 38 (6):607 - 632.
    This paper asks why information should ever be expressed vaguely, re-assessing some previously proposed answers to this question and suggesting some new ones. Particular attention is paid to the benefits that vague expressions can have in situations where agreement over the meaning of an expression cannot be taken for granted. A distinction between two different versions of the above-mentioned question is advocated. The first asks why human languages contain vague expressions, the second question asks when and why a speaker should (...)
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  • Slips.Santiago Amaya - 2013 - Noûs 47 (3):559-576.
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  • The Relationship of Science Knowledge, Attitude and Decision Making on Socio-Scientific Issues: The Case Study of Students’ Debates on a Nuclear Power Plant in Korea.Hunkoog Jho, Hye-Gyoung Yoon & Mijung Kim - 2014 - Science & Education 23 (5):1131-1151.
  • Emotion, Utility Maximization, and Ecological Rationality.Yakir Levin & Itzhak Aharon - 2014 - Mind and Society 13 (2):227-245.
    This paper examines the adequacy of an evolutionary-oriented notion of rationality—ecological rationality—that has recently been proposed in economics. Ecological rationality is concerned with what it is rational to do, and in this sense is a version of what philosophers call ‘practical rationality’. Indeed, the question of the adequacy of ecological rationality as it is understood in the paper, is the question of whether ecological rationality is a genuine notion of practical rationality. The paper first explicates and motivates the notion of (...)
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  • 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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  • Self-Control: A Mental Action in No Need of Special Motivational Powers.Sebastian Watzl - forthcoming - In M. Brent (ed.), Mental Action and the Conscious Mind.
    It has been argued that the explanation of self-control requires positing special motivational powers. Some think that we need will-power as an irreducible mental faculty; others that we need to think of the active self as a dedicated and depletable pool of psychic energy or – in today more respectable terminology – mental resources; finally, there is the idea that self-control requires postulating a deep division between reason and passion – a deliberative and an emotional motivational system. This essay argues (...)
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  • Representation Theorems and Radical Interpretation.Edward J. R. Elliott - manuscript
    This paper begins with a puzzle regarding Lewis' theory of radical interpretation. On the one hand, Lewis convincingly argued that the facts about an agent's sensory evidence and choices will always underdetermine the facts about her beliefs and desires. On the other hand, we have several representation theorems—such as those of (Ramsey 1931) and (Savage 1954)—that are widely taken to show that if an agent's choices satisfy certain constraints, then those choices can suffice to determine her beliefs and desires. In (...)
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  • Mentalism Versus Behaviourism in Economics: A Philosophy-of-Science Perspective.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2016 - Economics and Philosophy 32 (2):249-281.
    Behaviourism is the view that preferences, beliefs, and other mental states in social-scientific theories are nothing but constructs re-describing people's behaviour. Mentalism is the view that they capture real phenomena, on a par with the unobservables in science, such as electrons and electromagnetic fields. While behaviourism has gone out of fashion in psychology, it remains influential in economics, especially in ‘revealed preference’ theory. We defend mentalism in economics, construed as a positive science, and show that it fits best scientific practice. (...)
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  • Aggregating Causal Judgments.Richard Bradley, Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (4):491-515.
    Decision-making typically requires judgments about causal relations: we need to know the causal effects of our actions and the causal relevance of various environmental factors. We investigate how several individuals' causal judgments can be aggregated into collective causal judgments. First, we consider the aggregation of causal judgments via the aggregation of probabilistic judgments, and identify the limitations of this approach. We then explore the possibility of aggregating causal judgments independently of probabilistic ones. Formally, we introduce the problem of causal-network aggregation. (...)
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  • Norm Conflicts and Conditionals.Niels Skovgaard-Olsen, David Kellen, Ulrike Hahn & Karl Christoph Klauer - 2019 - Psychological Review (5):611-633.
    Suppose that two competing norms, N1 and N2, can be identified such that a given person’s response can be interpreted as correct according to N1 but incorrect according to N2. Which of these two norms, if any, should one use to interpret such a response? In this paper we seek to address this fundamental problem by studying individual variation in the interpretation of conditionals by establishing individual profiles of the participants based on their case judgments and reflective attitudes. To investigate (...)
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  • A Blind Spot in Research on Foreign Language Effects in Judgment and Decision-Making.Andrea Polonioli - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
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  • 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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  • On the Interpretation of Decision Theory.Samir Okasha - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy:1-25.
  • Exploring the Similarities and Differences Between Medical Assessments of Competence and Criminal Responsibility.Gerben Meynen - 2009 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 12 (4):443-451.
    The medical assessments of criminal responsibility and competence to consent to treatment are performed, developed and debated in distinct domains. In this paper I try to connect these domains by exploring the similarities and differences between both assessments. In my view, in both assessments a decision-making process is evaluated in relation to the possible influence of a mental disorder on this process. I will argue that, in spite of the relevance of the differences, both practices could benefit from the recognition (...)
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  • Reason-Based Choice and Context-Dependence: An Explanatory Framework.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2016 - Economics and Philosophy 32 (2):175-229.
    We introduce a “reason-based” framework for explaining and predicting individual choices. It captures the idea that a decision-maker focuses on some but not all properties of the options and chooses an option whose motivationally salient properties he/she most prefers. Reason-based explanations allow us to distinguish between two kinds of context-dependent choice: the motivationally salient properties may (i) vary across choice contexts, and (ii) include not only “intrinsic” properties of the options, but also “context-related” properties. Our framework can accommodate boundedly rational (...)
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  • Pitfalls for Realistic Decision Theory: An Illustration From Sequential Choice.José Luis Bermúdez - 2010 - Synthese 176 (1):23-40.
    Decision theory is a theory of rationality, but the concept of rationality has several different dimensions. Making decision theory more realistic with respect to one dimension may well have the result of making it less realistic in another dimension. This paper illustrates this tension in the context of sequential choice. Trying to make decision theory more realistic by accommodating resoluteness and commitment brings the normative assessment dimension of rationality into conflict with the action-guiding dimension. In the case of resolute choice (...)
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  • Decision Theory.Johanna Thoma - 2019 - In Richard Pettigrew & Jonathan Weisberg (eds.), The Open Handbook of Formal Epistemology. PhilPapers Foundation. pp. 57-106.
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  • Trzeci rodzaj normatywności – wymóg reagowania na racje.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2014 - Filozofia Nauki 88 (4):35-51.
    Celem artykułu jest krytyka przyjętego przez niektórych filozofów podziału na normatywność w podstawowym sensie oraz normatywność wymogów wąsko rozumianej racjonalności. Pokazuję, że podział taki nie jest wyczerpujący, ponieważ pomija ważny typ wymogów normatywnych, a mianowicie reagowanie na racje. Z jednej strony tego rodzaju wymogi nie przypominają wymogów normatywnych w podstawowym sensie, a z drugiej — istotnie różnią się od racjonalności rozumianej jako spójność między nastawieniami. Dochodzę do wniosku, że reagowanie na racje należy uznać za trzeci typ wymogów normatywnych.
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