Can an evidentialist be risk-averse?

Abstract

Two key questions of normative decision theory are: 1) whether the probabilities relevant to decision theory are evidential or causal; and 2) whether agents should be risk-neutral, and so maximise the expected value of the outcome, or instead risk-averse (or otherwise sensitive to risk). These questions are typically thought to be independent---that our answer to one bears little on our answer to the other. But there is a surprising argument that they are not. In this paper, I show that evidential decision theory implies risk neutrality, at least in moral decision-making and at least on plausible empirical assumptions. Take any risk-aversion-accommodating decision theory, apply it using the probabilities prescribed by evidential decision theory, and every verdict of moral betterness you reach will match those of expected value theory.

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Hayden Wilkinson
University of Oxford

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