Rationality revisited

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 62 (4):392 – 403 (1984)
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Abstract

This paper looks at a dispute decision theory about how best to characterize expected utility maximization and express the logic of rational choice. Where A1, … , An are actions open to some particular agent, and S1, … , Sn are mutually exclusive states of the world such that the agent knows at least one of which obtains, does the logic of rational choice require an agent to consider the conditional probability of choice Ai given that some state Si obtains, Prob(Ai/Si). Or, is the logic of choice better represented by considering the probability of the counterfactual if Ai then Si, Prob(Ai ⟥-> Si). Causal decision theory, developed by Allan Gibbard, William Harper, and David Lewis defend the counterfactual analysis; whereas, Richard Jeffrey and others defend the conditional probability analysis, evidential decision theory. I argue that the problems posed by cases of decision instability favor evidential decision theory.

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Reed Richter
University of California, Irvine (PhD)

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