Maximization, stability of decision, and actions in accordance with reason

Philosophy of Science 57 (1):60-77 (1990)

Abstract
Rational actions reflect beliefs and preferences in certain orderly ways. The problem of theory is to explain which beliefs and preferences are relevant to the rationality of particular actions, and exactly how they are relevant. One distinction of interest here is between an agent's beliefs and preferences just before an action's time, and his beliefs and preferences at its time. Theorists do not agree about the times of beliefs and desires that are relevant to the rationality of action. Another distinction is between actions that would, in one sense or another, maximize expected utilities given relevant beliefs and desires, and actions, decisions for which would, in one sense or another, be stable. There is disagreement about the relevance of these things to the rationality of actions. Here, in the first part below, several possible positions on these issues are explained and compared. In the second part, I contrast perspectives on these issues, and comment on arguments that might be brought against the position I favor. In the third part, I restate and elaborate on this position.
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DOI 10.1086/289531
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Pascalian Wagers.Jordan Howard Sobel - 1996 - Synthese 108 (1):11 - 61.
Utility Theory and the Bayesian Paradigm.Jordan Howard Sobel - 1989 - Theory and Decision 26 (3):263-293.
Newcomblike Problems.Jordan Howard Sobel - 1990 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 15 (1):224-255.

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