Decision and Intervention

Erkenntnis 84 (4):783-804 (2019)
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Meek and Glymour use the graphical approach to causal modeling to argue that one and the same norm of rational choice can be used to deliver both causal-decision-theoretic verdicts and evidential-decision-theoretic verdicts. Specifically, they argue that if an agent maximizes conditional expected utility, then the agent will follow the causal decision theorist’s advice when she represents herself as intervening, and will follow the evidential decision theorist’s advice when she represents herself as not intervening. Since Meek and Glymour take no stand on whether agents should represent themselves as intervening, they provide more general advice than standard causal decision theorists and evidential decision theorists. But I argue here that even Meek and Glymour’s advice is not sufficiently general. This is because their advice is not sensitive to the distinct ways in which agents can fail to intervene, and there are decision-making contexts in which agents can reasonably have non-extreme confidence that they are intervening. I then show that the most natural extension of Meek and Glymour’s framework fails, but offer a generalization of my “Interventionist Decision Theory” that does not suffer from the same problems.



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Reuben Stern
Duke University

References found in this work

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Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):201-202.
The Direction of Time.Hans Reichenbach - 1956 - Philosophy 34 (128):65-66.
Rational Decision and Causality.Ellery Eells - 2009 - Cambridge University Press.

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