Causation, Decision Theory, and Bell’s Theorem: A Quantum Analogue of the Newcomb Problem

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3):569-597 (2010)
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Abstract

I apply some of the lessons from quantum theory, in particular from Bell’s theorem, to a debate on the foundations of decision theory and causation. By tracing a formal analogy between the basic assumptions of causal decision theory (CDT)—which was developed partly in response to Newcomb’s problem— and those of a local hidden variable theory in the context of quantum mechanics, I show that an agent who acts according to CDT and gives any nonzero credence to some possible causal interpretations underlying quantum phenomena should bet against quantum mechanics in some feasible game scenarios involving entangled systems, no matter what evidence they acquire. As a consequence, either the most accepted version of decision theory is wrong, or it provides a practical distinction, in terms of the prescribed behaviour of rational agents, between some metaphysical hypotheses regarding the causal structure underlying quantum mechanics.

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Eric Cavalcanti
Griffith University

References found in this work

Causal decision theory.David Lewis - 1981 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 59 (1):5 – 30.

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