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Abstract
In this paper, I argue for a new normative theory of rational choice under risk, namely expected comparative utility (ECU) theory. I show that for any choice option, a, and for any state of the world, G, the measure of the choiceworthiness of a in G is the comparative utility (CU) of a in G—that is, the difference in utility, in G, between a and whichever alternative(s) to a carry the greatest utility in G. On the basis of this principle, I argue that for any agent, S, faced with any decision under risk, S should rank his or her decision options (in terms of how choiceworthy they are) according to their comparative expected comparative utility (CECU) and should choose whichever option carries the greatest CECU (or one of them in the event that several alternatives are tied). For any option, a, a’s CECU is the difference between its ECU and that of whichever alternative(s) to a carry the greatest ECU, where a’s ECU is a probability-weighted sum of a’s CUs across the various possible states of the world. I show that in some ordinary decisions under risk, ECU theory delivers different verdicts from those of standard decision theory.
Keywords Rational Choice Theory  Expected Utility Theory  Benchmark Theory  Gandalf’s Principle  Independence of irrelevant alternatives
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