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Normative theories of rational choice: expected utility

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2017)

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  1. Can Resources Save Rationality? ‘Anti-Bayesian’ Updating in Cognition and Perception.Eric Mandelbaum, Isabel Won, Steven Gross & Chaz Firestone - 2020 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 143:e16.
    Resource rationality may explain suboptimal patterns of reasoning; but what of “anti-Bayesian” effects where the mind updates in a direction opposite the one it should? We present two phenomena — belief polarization and the size-weight illusion — that are not obviously explained by performance- or resource-based constraints, nor by the authors’ brief discussion of reference repulsion. Can resource rationality accommodate them?
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  • 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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  • Duty and Doubt.Seth Lazar - 2020 - Journal of Practical Ethics 8 (1):28-55.
    Deontologists have been slow to address decision-making under risk and uncertainty, no doubt because the standard approaches to non-moral decision theory appear superficially similar to consequentialist moral reasoning. I identify some central tenets of simple decision theory and show that they should not put deontologists off, before showing where we should go next to develop a comprehensive deontological decision theory.
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  • Belief and Credence: Why the Attitude-Type Matters.Elizabeth Jackson - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2477-2496.
    In this paper, I argue that the relationship between belief and credence is a central question in epistemology. This is because the belief-credence relationship has significant implications for a number of current epistemological issues. I focus on five controversies: permissivism, disagreement, pragmatic encroachment, doxastic voluntarism, and the relationship between doxastic attitudes and prudential rationality. I argue that each debate is constrained in particular ways, depending on whether the relevant attitude is belief or credence. This means that epistemologists should pay attention (...)
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  • Hope as a Source of Grit.Catherine Rioux - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    Psychologists and philosophers have argued that the capacity for perseverance or “grit” depends both on willpower and on a kind of epistemic resilience. But can a form of hopefulness in one’s future success also constitute a source of grit? I argue that substantial practical hopefulness, as a hope to bring about a desired outcome through exercises of one’s agency, can serve as a distinctive ground for the capacity for perseverance. Gritty agents’ “practical hope” centrally involves an attention-fuelled, risk-inclined weighting of (...)
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  • Belief, Faith, and Hope: On the Rationality of Long-Term Commitment.Elizabeth Jackson - 2021 - Mind 130 (517):35–57.
    I examine three attitudes: belief, faith, and hope. I argue that all three attitudes play the same role in rationalizing action. First, I explain two models of rational action—the decision-theory model and the belief-desire model. Both models entail there are two components of rational action: an epistemic component and a conative component. Then, using this framework, I show how belief, faith, and hope that p can all make it rational to accept, or act as if, p. I conclude by showing (...)
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  • Infinite options, intransitive value, and supererogation.Daniel Muñoz - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (6):2063-2075.
    Supererogatory acts are those that lie “beyond the call of duty.” There are two standard ways to define this idea more precisely. Although the definitions are often seen as equivalent, I argue that they can diverge when options are infinite, or when there are cycles of better options; moreover, each definition is acceptable in only one case. I consider two ways out of this dilemma.
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Resource-Rationality as a Normative Standard of Human Rationality.Matteo Colombo - 2020 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 43.
    Lieder and Griffiths introduce resource-rational analysis as a methodological device for the empirical study of the mind. But they also suggest resource-rationality serves as a normative standard to reassess the limits and scope of human rationality. Although the methodological status of resource-rational analysis is convincing, its normative status is not.
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  • Moral Priorities Under Risk.Chad Lee-Stronach - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (6):793-811.
    Many moral theories are committed to the idea that some kinds of moral considerations should be respected, whatever the cost to ‘lesser’ types of considerations. A person's life, for instance, should not be sacrificed for the trivial pleasures of others, no matter how many would benefit. However, according to the decision-theoretic critique of lexical priority theories, accepting lexical priorities inevitably leads us to make unacceptable decisions in risky situations. It seems that to operate in a risky world, we must reject (...)
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  • To Buy or Not to Buy? The Moral Relevance of the Individual Demand in Everyday Purchase Situations.Rebecca Ullrich & Bernward Gesang - 2020 - Food Ethics 5 (1-2).
    The question of the moral relevance of the individual demand is fundamental to many purchase decisions of daily consumer life. Can a single purchase make a difference for the better or worse? Each individual consumer could argue that companies are unlikely to adjust their production due to one single item more or less being sold. He might therefore decide not to change his consumption behavior but instead to rely on the effort of others, a pattern commonly referred to as collective (...)
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  • Exiting The Consequentialist Circle: Two Senses of Bringing It About.Paul Edward Hurley - 2019 - Analytic Philosophy 60 (2):130-163.
    Consequentialism is a state of affairs centered moral theory that finds support in state of affairs centered views of value, reason, action, and desire/preference. Together these views form a mutually reinforcing circle. I map an exit route out of this circle by distinguishing between two different senses in which actions can be understood as bringing about states of affairs. All actions, reasons, desires, and values involve bringing about in the first, deflationary sense, but only some appear to involve bringing about (...)
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  • Behavior is Sensible but Not Globally Optimal: Seeking Common Ground in the Optimality Debate.Dobromir Rahnev & Rachel N. Denison - 2018 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41.
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  • How to Argue for Pragmatic Encroachment.Blake Roeber - 2018 - Synthese.
    Purists think that changes in our practical interests can’t affect what we know unless those changes are truth-relevant with respect to the propositions in question. Impurists disagree. They think changes in our practical interests can affect what we know even if those changes aren’t truth-relevant with respect to the propositions in question. I argue that impurists are right, but for the wrong reasons, since they haven’t appreciated the best argument for their own view. Together with “Minimalism and the Limits of (...)
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  • Transformative Experience, by L. A. Paul.Richard Pettigrew - 2016 - Mind 125 (499):927-935.
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  • Deontic Modals and Probability: One Theory to Rule Them All?Fabrizio Cariani - forthcoming - In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press.
    This paper motivates and develops a novel semantic framework for deontic modals. The framework is designed to shed light on two things: the relationship between deontic modals and substantive theories of practical rationality and the interaction of deontic modals with conditionals, epistemic modals and probability operators. I argue that, in order to model inferential connections between deontic modals and probability operators, we need more structure than is provided by classical intensional theories. In particular, we need probabilistic structure that interacts directly (...)
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  • Imprecise Probabilities.Seamus Bradley - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Belief and Credence: A Defense of Dualism.Elizabeth Jackson - 2019 - Dissertation, University of Notre Dame
    Belief is a familiar attitude: taking something to be the case or regarding it as true. But we are more confident in some of our beliefs than in others. For this reason, many epistemologists appeal to a second attitude, called credence, similar to a degree of confidence. This raises the question: how do belief and credence relate to each other? On a belief-first view, beliefs are more fundamental and credences are a species of beliefs, e.g. beliefs about probabilities. On a (...)
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  • Accuracy and Ur-Prior Conditionalization.Nilanjan Das - 2019 - Review of Symbolic Logic 12 (1):62-96.
    Recently, several epistemologists have defended an attractive principle of epistemic rationality, which we shall call Ur-Prior Conditionalization. In this essay, I ask whether we can justify this principle by appealing to the epistemic goal of accuracy. I argue that any such accuracy-based argument will be in tension with Evidence Externalism, i.e., the view that agent's evidence may entail non-trivial propositions about the external world. This is because any such argument will crucially require the assumption that, independently of all empirical evidence, (...)
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  • Against Denialism.John Broome - 2019 - The Monist 102 (1):110-129.
    Several philosophers deny that an individual person’s emissions of greenhouse gas do any harm; I call these “individual denialists.” I argue that each individual’s emissions may do harm, and that they certainly do expected harm. I respond to the denialists’ arguments.
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  • Full & Partial Belief.Konstantin Genin - 2019 - In Richard Pettigrew & Jonathan Weisberg (eds.), The Open Handbook of Formal Epistemology. PhilPapers Foundation. pp. 437-498.
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  • Credence and Correctness: In Defense of Credal Reductivism.Matthew Brandon Lee - 2017 - Philosophical Papers 46 (2):273-296.
    Credal reductivism is the view that outright belief is reducible to degrees of confidence or ‘credence’. The most popular versions of credal reductivism all have the consequence that if you are near-maximally confident that p in a low-stakes situation, then you outright believe p. This paper addresses a recent objection to this consequence—the Correctness Objection— introduced by Jeremy Fantl and Matthew McGrath and further developed by Jacob Ross and Mark Schroeder. The objection is that near-maximal confidence cannot entail outright belief (...)
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