"Click!" Bait for Causalists

In Arif Ahmed (ed.), Newcomb's Problem. Cambridge University Press. pp. 160-179 (2018)
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Causalists and Evidentialists can agree about the right course of action in an (apparent) Newcomb problem, if the causal facts are not as initially they seem. If declining $1,000 causes the Predictor to have placed $1m in the opaque box, CDT agrees with EDT that one-boxing is rational. This creates a difficulty for Causalists. We explain the problem with reference to Dummett's work on backward causation and Lewis's on chance and crystal balls. We show that the possibility that the causal facts might be properly judged to be non-standard in Newcomb problems leads to a dilemma for Causalism. One horn embraces a subjectivist understanding of causation, in a sense analogous to Lewis's own subjectivist conception of objective chance. In this case the analogy with chance reveals a terminological choice point, such that either (i) CDT is completely reconciled with EDT, or (ii) EDT takes precedence in the cases in which the two theories give different recommendations. The other horn of the dilemma rejects subjectivism, but now the analogy with chance suggests that it is simply mysterious why causation so construed should constrain rational action.

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Author Profiles

Huw Price
Cambridge University (PhD)
Yang Liu
Cambridge University

Citations of this work

Frankfurt cases and the Newcomb Problem.Arif Ahmed - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (11):3391-3408.
Modern and Medieval Modal Spaces.Arif Ahmed - 2020 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 94 (1):255-273.

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References found in this work

Humean Supervenience Debugged.David Lewis - 1994 - Mind 103 (412):473--490.
The Matter of Chance.D. H. Mellor - 1971 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by D. H. Mellor.

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