Philosophical Studies 173 (1):205-221 (2016)

Authors
Tina Rulli
University of California, Davis
Alex Worsnip
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Abstract
The independence of irrelevant alternatives is a popular and important axiom of decision theory. It states, roughly, that one’s choice from a set of options should not be influenced by the addition or removal of further, unchosen options. In recent debates, a number of authors have given putative counterexamples to it, involving intuitively rational agents who violate IIA. Generally speaking, however, these counterexamples do not tend to move IIA’s proponents. Their strategy tends to be to individuate the options that the agent faces differently, so that the case no longer counts as a violation of IIA. In this paper, we examine whether this strategy succeeds. We argue that the ways of individuating options required to save IIA from the most problematic counterexamples—in particular, cases where agents violate IIA due to nonconsequentialist moral beliefs—do so only at the expense of severely compromising its central function within decision theory
Keywords Independence of irrelevant alternatives  Decision theory  Nonconsequentialism  Preferences  Rationality
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-015-0481-6
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