Synthese:1-41 (forthcoming)

Authors
Christopher Meacham
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Abstract
Theories that use expected utility maximization to evaluate acts have difficulty handling cases with infinitely many utility contributions. In this paper I present and motivate a way of modifying such theories to deal with these cases, employing what I call “direct difference taking”. This proposal has a number of desirable features: it’s natural and well-motivated, it satisfies natural dominance intuitions, and it yields plausible prescriptions in a wide range of cases. I then compare my account to the most plausible alternative, a proposal offered by Arntzenius (2014). I argue that while Arntzenius’s proposal has many attractive features, it runs into a number of problems which direct difference taking avoids.
Keywords Decision Theory  Infinity  Infinite decision problems  Arntzenius  Utilitarianism
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-019-02522-0
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