Perplexing expectations

Mind 115 (459):703 - 720 (2006)
This paper revisits the Pasadena game (Nover and Háyek 2004), a St Petersburg-like game whose expectation is undefined. We discuss serveral respects in which the Pasadena game is even more troublesome for decision theory than the St Petersburg game. Colyvan (2006) argues that the decision problem of whether or not to play the Pasadena game is ‘ill-posed’. He goes on to advocate a ‘pluralism’ regarding decision rules, which embraces dominance reasoning as well as maximizing expected utility. We rebut Colyvan’s argument, offering several considerations in favour of the Pasadena decision problem being well posed. To be sure, current decision theory, which is underpinned by various preference axioms, leaves indeterminate how one should value the Pasadena game. But we suggest that determinacy might be achieved by adding further preference axioms. We conclude by opening the door to a far greater plurality of decision rules. We suggest how the goal of unifying these rules might guide future research.
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DOI 10.1093/mind/fzl703
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