Decision theory and folk psychology both purport to represent the same phenomena: our belief-like and desire- and preference-like states. They also purport to do the same work with these representations: explain and predict our actions. But they do so with different sets of concepts. There's much at stake in whether one of these two sets of concepts can be accounted for with the other. Without such an account, we'd have two competing representations and systems of prediction and explanation, a (...) dubious dualism. Folk psychology structures our daily lives and has proven fruitful in the study of mind and ethics, while decision theory is pervasive in various disciplines, including the quantitative social sciences, especially economics, and philosophy. My interest is in accounting for folk psychology with decision theory -- in particular, for believe and wanting, which decision theory omits. Many have attempted this task for belief. (The Lockean Thesis says that there is such an account.) I take up the parallel task for wanting, which has received far less attention. I propose necessary and sufficient conditions, stated in terms of decision theory, for when you're truly said to want; I give an analogue of the Lockean Thesis for wanting. My account is an alternative to orthodox accounts that link wanting to preference (e.g. Stalnaker (1984), Lewis (1986)), which I argue are false. I argue further that want ascriptions are context-sensitive. My account explains this context-sensitivity, makes sense of conflicting desires, and accommodates phenomena that motivate traditional theses on which 'want' has multiple senses (e.g. all-things-considered vs. pro tanto). (shrink)
This review summarizes and critiques the empirical ethical decision-making literature from 1996-2003. One hundred and seventy-four articles were published in top business journals during this period. Tables are included that summarize the findings by dependent variable - awareness, judgment, intent, and behavior. We compare this review with past reviews in order to draw conclusions regarding trends in the ethical decision-making literature and to surface directions for future research.
This review summarizes and critiques the empirical ethical decision-making literature from 1996–2003. One hundred and seventy-four articles were published in top business journals during this period. Tables are included that summarize the findings by dependent variable – awareness, judgment, intent, and behavior. We compare this review with past reviews in order to draw conclusions regarding trends in the ethical decision-making literature and to surface directions for future research.
I formulate a principle of preference, which I call the Guaranteed Principle. I argue that the preferences of rational agents satisfy the Guaranteed Principle, that the preferences of agents who embody causal decision theory do not, and hence that causal decision theory is false.
This review summarizes the research on ethical decision-making from 2004 to 2011. Eighty-four articles were published during this period, resulting in 357 findings. Individual findings are categorized by their application to individual variables, organizational variables, or the concept of moral intensity as developed by Jones :366–395, 1991). Rest’s four-step model for ethical decision-making is used to summarize findings by dependent variable—awareness, intent, judgment, and behavior. A discussion of findings in each category is provided in order to uncover trends (...) in the ethical decision-making literature. A summary of areas of suggested future research is provided. (shrink)
I argue that the Universal Law formulation of the Categorical Imperative is best interpreted as a test or decision procedure of moral rightness and not as a criterion intended to explain the deontic status of actions. Rather, the Humanity formulation is best interpreted as a moral criterion. I also argue that because the role of a moral criterion is to explain, and thus specify what makes an action right or wrong, Kant's Humanity formulation yields a theory of relevant descriptions.
We present a novel variant of decision making based on the mathematical theory of separable Hilbert spaces. This mathematical structure captures the effect of superposition of composite prospects, including many incorporated intentions, which allows us to describe a variety of interesting fallacies and anomalies that have been reported to particularize the decision making of real human beings. The theory characterizes entangled decision making, non-commutativity of subsequent decisions, and intention interference. We demonstrate how the violation of the Savage’s (...) sure-thing principle, known as the disjunction effect, can be explained quantitatively as a result of the interference of intentions, when making decisions under uncertainty. The disjunction effects, observed in experiments, are accurately predicted using a theorem on interference alternation that we derive, which connects aversion-to-uncertainty to the appearance of negative interference terms suppressing the probability of actions. The conjunction fallacy is also explained by the presence of the interference terms. A series of experiments are analyzed and shown to be in excellent agreement with a priori evaluation of interference effects. The conjunction fallacy is also shown to be a sufficient condition for the disjunction effect, and novel experiments testing the combined interplay between the two effects are suggested. (shrink)
There are at least two plausible generalisations of subjective expected utility (SEU) theory: cumulative prospect theory (which relaxes the independence axiom) and Levi’s decision theory (which relaxes at least ordering). These theories call for a re-assessment of the minimal requirements of rational choice. Here, I consider how an analysis of sequential decision making contributes to this assessment. I criticise Hammond’s (Economica 44(176):337–350, 1977; Econ Philos 4:292–297, 1988a; Risk, decision and rationality, 1988b; Theory Decis 25:25–78, 1988c) ‘consequentialist’ argument (...) for the SEU preference axioms, but go on to formulate a related diachronic-Dutch-book-style’ argument that better achieves Hammond’s aims. Some deny the importance of Dutch-book sure losses, however, in which case, Seidenfeld’s (Econ Philos 4:267–290, 1988a) argument that distinguishes between theories that relax independence and those that relax ordering is relevant. I unravel Seidenfeld’s argument in light of the various criticisms of it and show that the crux of the argument is somewhat different and much more persuasive than what others have taken it to be; the critical issue is the modelling of future choices between ‘indifferent’ decision-tree branches in the sequential setting. Finally, I consider how Seidenfeld’s conclusions might nonetheless be resisted. (shrink)
This paper provides new foundations for Bayesian Decision Theory based on a representation theorem for preferences defined on a set of prospects containing both factual and conditional possibilities. This use of a rich set of prospects not only provides a framework within which the main theoretical claims of Savage, Ramsey, Jeffrey and others can be stated and compared, but also allows for the postulation of an extended Bayesian model of rational belief and desire from which they can be derived (...) as special cases. The main theorem of the paper establishes the existence of a such a Bayesian representation of preferences over conditional prospects, i.e. the existence of a pair of real-valued functions respectively measuring the agent’s degrees of belief and desire and which satisfy the postulated rationality conditions on partial belief and desire. The representation of partial belief is shown to be unique and that of partial desire, unique up to a linear transformation. (shrink)
A fundamental assumption of theories of decision-making is that we detect mismatches between intention and outcome, adjust our behavior in the face of error, and adapt to changing circumstances. Is this always the case? We investigated the relation between intention, choice, and introspection. Participants made choices between presented face pairs on the basis of attractiveness, while we covertly manipulated the relationship between choice and outcome that they experienced. Participants failed to notice conspicuous mismatches between their intended choice and the (...) outcome they were presented with, while nevertheless offering introspectively derived reasons for why they chose the way they did. We call this effect choice blindness. (shrink)
In many real-world gambles, a non-trivial amount of time passes before the uncertainty is resolved but after a choice is made. An individual may have a preference between gambles with identical probability distributions over final outcomes if they differ in the timing of resolution of uncertainty. In this domain, utility consists not only of the consumption of outcomes, but also the psychological utility induced by an unresolved gamble. We term this utility anxiety. Since a reflective decision maker may want (...) to include anxiety explicitly in analysis of unresolved lotteries, a multiple-outcome model for evaluating lotteries with delayed resolution of uncertainty is developed. The result is a rank-dependent utility representation (e.g., Quiggin, 1982), in which period weighting functions are related iteratively. Substitution rules are proposed for evaluating compound temporal lotteries. The representation is appealing for a number of reasons. First, probability weights can be interpreted as the cognitive attention allocated to certain outcomes. Second, the model disaggregates strength of preference from temporal risk aversion and thus provides some insight into the old debate about the relationship between von NeumannâMorgenstern utility functions and strength of preference value functions. (shrink)
Decision making theory in general, and mental models in particular, associate judgment and choice. Decision choice follows probability estimates and errors in choice derive mainly from errors in judgment. In the studies reported here we use the Monty Hall dilemma to illustrate that judgment and choice do not always go together, and that such a dissociation can lead to better decision-making. Specifically, we demonstrate that in certain decision problems, exceeding working memory limitations can actually improve (...) class='Hi'>decision choice. We show across four experiments that increasing the number of choice alternatives forces people to collapse choices together, resulting in better decision-making. While choice performance improves, probability judgments do not change, thus demonstrating an important dissociation between choice and probability judgments. We propose the Collapsing Choice Theory (CCT) which explains how working memory capacity, probability estimation, choice alternatives, judgment, and regret all interact and effect decision quality. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to propose a preferences representation model under risk where risk perception can be past experience dependent. A first step consists in considering a one period decision problem where individual preferences are no more defined only on decisions but on pairs (decision, past experience). The obtained criterion is used in the construction of a dynamic choice model under risk. The paper ends with an illustrative example concerning insurance demand. It appears that our model (...) allows to explain modifications in the insurance demand behavior over time observed on the insurance markets for catastrophic risk and difficult to justify with standard models. (shrink)
This paper starts out from the proposition that case-based decision theory is an appropriate tool to explain human decision behavior in situations of structural ignorance. Although the developers of CBDT suggest its reality adequacy, CBDT has not yet been tested empirically very often, especially not in repetitive decision situations. Therefore, our main objective is to analyse the decision behavior of subjects in a repeated-choice experiment by comparing the explanation power of CBDT to reinforcement learning and to (...) classical decision criteria under uncertainty namely maximin, maximax, and pessimism-optimism. Our findings substantiate a predominant significantly higher validity of CBDT compared to the classical criteria and to reinforcement learning. For this reason, the experimental results confirm the suggested reality adequacy of CBDT in repetitive decision situations of structural ignorance. (shrink)
The Barrett and Arntzenius (1999) decision paradox involves unbounded wealth, the relationship between period-wise and sequence-wise dominance, and an infinite-period split-minute setting. A version of their paradox involving bounded (in fact, constant) wealth decisions is presented, along with a version involving no decisions at all. The common source of paradox in BarrettâArntzenius and these other examples is the indeterminacy of their infinite-period split-minute setting.
In this paper, I examine the decision-theoretic status of risk attitudes. I start by providing evidence showing that the risk attitude concepts do not play a major role in the axiomatic analysis of the classic models of decision-making under risk. This can be interpreted as reflecting the neutrality of these models between the possible risk attitudes. My central claim, however, is that such neutrality needs to be qualified and the axiomatic relevance of risk attitudes needs to be re-evaluated (...) accordingly. Specifically, I highlight the importance of the conditional variation and the strengthening of risk attitudes, and I explain why they establish the axiomatic significance of the risk attitude concepts. I also present several questions for future research regarding the strengthening of risk attitudes. (shrink)
Committee decision making is examined in this study focusing on the role assigned to the committee members. In particular, we are concerned about the comparison between committee performance under specialization and non-specialization of the decision makers. Specialization (in the context of project or public policy selection) means that the decision of each committee member is based on a narrow area, which typically results in the acquirement and use of relatively high expertise in that area. When the committee (...) members’ expertise is already determined, specialization only means that the decision of each committee member is based solely on his/her relatively high expertise area. This form of specialization is potentially inferior relative to non-specialization under which the decision of each committee member is based on different areas, not just his/her relatively high expertise area. Given that the expertise of the committee members is already determined but unknown, our analysis focuses on non-specializing individuals whose decision is based on a decision rule that does not require information on the decision-making skills. Under these realistic assumptions, non-specialization is shown to be preferable over specialization, depending on the aggregation rule applied by the committee. The significance of our approach is not limited to the specific results that we obtain. Rather, it should be viewed as a first step toward a deeper examination of the role of individual decision makers in enhancing the performance of collective decision making. (shrink)
In the sacrificial moral dilemma task, participants have to morally judge an action that saves several lives at the cost of killing one person. According to the dual process corrective model of moral judgment suggested by Greene and collaborators (2001; 2004; 2008), cognitive control is necessary to override the intuitive, deontological force of the norm against killing and endorse the utilitarian perspective. However, a conflict model has been proposed more recently to account for part of the evidence in favor of (...) dual process models in moral and social decision making. In this model, conflict, moral responses and reaction times arise from the interplay between individually variable motivational factors and objective parameters intrinsic to the choices offered. To further explore this model in the moral dilemma task, we confronted three different samples with a set of dilemmas representing an objective gradient of utilitarian pull, and collected data on moral judgment and on conflict in a 4-point scale. Collapsing all cases along the gradient, participants in each sample felt less conflicted on average when they gave extreme responses (1 or 4 in the UR scale). They felt less conflicted on average when responding to either the low- or the high-pull cases. The correlation between utilitarian responses and conflict was positive in the low-pull and negative in the high-pull cases. This pattern of data suggests that moral responses to sacrificial dilemmas are driven by decision conflict, which in turn depends on the interplay between an objective gradient of utilitarian pull and the moral motivations which regulate individual responsiveness to this gradient. (shrink)
This article reports results of an experiment designed to analyze the link between risky decisions made by couples and risky decisions made separately by each spouse. We estimate both the spouses and the couples’ degrees of risk aversion, we assess how the risk preferences of the two spouses aggregate when they make risky decisions, and we shed light on the dynamics of the decision process that takes place when couples make risky decisions. We find that, far from being fixed, (...) the balance of power within the household is malleable. In most couples, men have, initially, more decision-making power than women but women who ultimately implement the joint decisions gain more and more power over the course of decision making. (shrink)
Many decisions involve multiple stages of choices and events, and these decisions can be represented graphically as decision trees. Optimal decision strategies for decision trees are commonly determined by a backward induction analysis that demands adherence to three fundamental consistency principles: dynamic, consequential, and strategic. Previous research found that decision-makers tend to exhibit violations of dynamic and strategic consistency at rates significantly higher than choice inconsistency across various levels of potential reward. The current research extends these (...) findings under new conditions; specifically, it explores the extent to which these principles are violated as a function of the planning horizon length of the decision tree. Results from two experiments suggest that dynamic inconsistency increases as tree length increases; these results are explained within a dynamic approachâavoidance framework. (shrink)
In a dynamic (sequential) framework, departures from the independence axiom (IND) are reputed to induce violations of dynamic consistency (DC), which may in turn have undesirable normative consequences. This result thus questions the normative acceptability of non expected-utility (non-EU) models, which precisely relax IND. This paper pursues a twofold objective. The main one is to discuss the normative conclusion: usual arguments linking violations of DC to departures from IND are shown to be actually based on specific (but usually remaining implicit) (...) assumptions which may rightfully be released, so that it is actually possible for a non-EU maximizer to be dynamically consistent and thus avoid normative difficulties. The second objective is to introduce a kind of `reality principle' (through two other evaluation criteria) in order to mitigate the normative requirement when examining adequate moods for non-EU decision making. (shrink)
Incorporation of the behavioral issues of the decision maker (DM) is among the aspects that each Multicriteria Decision Making (MCDM) method implicitly or explicitly takes into account. As postulated by regret theory, the feelings of regret and rejoice are among the behavioral issues associated with the entire decision making process. Within the context of MCDM, the DM may feel regret, when the chosen alternative is compared with another one having at least one better criterion value. PROMETHEE II (...) is a widely known MCDM method that makes no explicit incorporation of regret attitude of the DM. In this paper, we elaborate on the applicability of regret theory to MCDM context. In particular, we investigate the findings of regret theory and explore the parallel between regret theory and PROMETHEE II method. Relying on the concepts of regret theory, we demonstrate how a decision that is made using a PROMETHEE II based outranking method conforms to the regret attitude of the DM. (shrink)
Yoo (Economic Letters 37:145–149, 1991) argues that the law of iterated expectations must be violated if the probability measure of a Choquet decision maker is non-additive. In this article, we prove the positive result that the law of iterated expectations is satisfied for Choquet decision makers whenever they update their non-additive beliefs in accordance with the Sarin and Wakker (Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 16:223–250, 1998) update rule. The formal key to this result is the act-dependence of the (...) Sarin–Wakker update rule, which does not hold for the update rules considered by Yoo (1991). (shrink)
A hybrid preference framework is proposed for strategic conflict analysis to integrate preference strength and preference uncertainty into the paradigm of the graph model for conflict resolution (GMCR) under multiple decision makers. This structure offers decision makers a more flexible mechanism for preference expression, which can include strong or mild preference of one state or scenario over another, as well as equal preference. In addition, preference between two states can be uncertain. The result is a preference framework that (...) is more general than existing models which consider preference strength and preference uncertainty separately. Within the hybrid preference structure, four kinds of stability are defined as solution concepts and a post-stability analysis, called status quo analysis, which can be used to track the evolution of a given conflict. Algorithms are provided for implementing the key inputs of stability analysis and status quo analysis within the extended preference structure. The new stability concepts under the hybrid preference structure can be used to model complex strategic conflicts arising in practical applications, and can provide new insights for the conflicts. The method is illustrated using the conflict over proposed bulk water exports from Lake Gisborne in Newfoundland, Canada. (shrink)
The notion of ecological rationality implies that the accuracy of a decision strategy depends on features of the information environment in which it is tested. We demonstrate that the performance of a group may be strongly affected by the decision strategies used by its individual members and specify how this effect is moderated by environmental features. Specifically, in a set of simulation studies, we systematically compared four decision strategies used by the individual group members: two linear, compensatory (...)decision strategies and two simple, noncompensatory heuristics. Individual decisions were aggregated by using a majority rule. To assess the ecological rationality of the strategies, we varied the distribution of cue validities, the quantity, and the quality of shared information. Group performance strongly depended on the distribution of cue validities. When validities were linearly distributed, groups using a compensatory strategy achieved the highest accuracy. Conversely, when cue validities followed a J-shaped distribution, groups using a simple lexicographic heuristic performed best. While these effects were robust across different quantities of shared information, the quality of shared information exerted stronger effects on group performance. Consequences for prescriptive theories on group decision making are discussed. (shrink)
While the traditional economic wisdom believes that an individual will become better off by being given a larger opportunity set to choose from, in this paper we question this belief and build a formal theoretical model that introduces decision costs into the rational decision process. We show, under some reasonable conditions, that a larger feasible set may actually lower an individual’s level of satisfaction. This provides a solid economic underpinning for the Simon prediction.
The current note clarifies why, in committees, the prior probability of a correct collective choice might be of particular significance and possibly should sometimes even be the sole appropriate basis for making the collective decision. In particular, we present sufficient conditions for the superiority of a rule based solely on the prior relative to the simple majority rule, even when the decisional skills of the committee members are assumed to be homogeneous.
Research in psychology suggests that some individuals are more sensitive to positive than to negative information while others are more sensitive to negative rather than positive information. I take these cognitive positive–negative asymmetries in information processing to a Bayesian decision-theory model and explore its consequences in terms of decisions and payoffs. I show that in monotone decision problems economic agents with more positive-responsive information structures are always better off, ex ante, when they face problems where payoffs are relatively (...) more sensitive to the action chosen when the state of nature is favorable. (shrink)
In a stimulating paper, Piccione and Rubinstein (1997) argued how a decision maker could undertake dynamically inconsistent choices when, in an extensive form decision problem, she has a particular type of imperfect recall named absentmindedness. Such memory limitation obtains whenever information sets include decision histories along the same decision path. Starting from work focusing on the absentminded driver example, and independently developed by Segal (2000) and Dimitri (1999), the main theorem of this article provides a general (...) result of dynamically consistent choices, valid for a large class of finite extensive form decision problems without nature. (shrink)
This paper proposes several concepts of efficient solutions for multicriteria decision problems under uncertainty. We show how alternative notions of efficiency may be grounded on different decision âcontextsâ, depending on what is known about the Decision Maker's (DM) preference structure and probabilistic anticipations. We define efficient sets arising naturally from polar decision contexts. We investigate these sets from the points of view of their relative inclusions and point out some particular subsets which may be especially relevant (...) to some decision situations. (shrink)
The focus here is on analytical and instrumental requirements for those collective decision exercises that lend themselves to a judgment-driven resolution. These have not as yet received much concerted technical attention from either of the two main movements in the field. They remain somewhere beyond the purview of the objectively-predicated instruments that mainstream GDSS (Group Decision Support System) designs tend to favour. Yet neither are they so inherently ill-structured as the situations with which the GDNSS (Group Decision (...) and Negotiation Support System) community is concerned, these usually allowing only a subjectively-predicated, compromisive or consensus-based conclusion. If the technical requirements peculiar to judgment-driven decision exercises are to be well met, it will be through the offices of analytical instruments that can help assure the rationality of the resolutions at which they arrive. The primary purpose of these pages is to offer some suggestions about the types of analytical instruments that might serve this end. (shrink)
Game trees (or extensive-form games) were first defined by von Neumann and Morgenstern in 1944. In this paper we examine the use of game trees for representing Bayesian decision problems. We propose a method for solving game trees using local computation. This method is a special case of a method due to Wilson for computing equilibria in 2-person games. Game trees differ from decision trees in the representations of information constraints and uncertainty. We compare the game tree representation (...) and solution technique with other techniques for decision analysis such as decision trees, influence diagrams, and valuation networks. (shrink)
Modeling risk in a prescriptively plausible way represents a major issue in decision theory. The benchmarking procedure, being based on the satisficing principle and providing a probabilistic interpretation of expected utility (EU) theory, is prescriptive. Because it is a target-based language, the benchmarking procedure can be applied naturally to finance. In finance, the centrality of risk is widely recognized, but the risk measures that are commonly used to assess risk are too poor as a decision making tool. In (...) this paper we propose a two-stage decision criterion of choice under risk that provides an application of benchmarking to finance through a risk measure. We will analyze some nonexpected utility theories, in particular lottery dependent utility, as potential frameworks for our criterion. (shrink)
This paper presents a critical reflection on dynamic consistency as commonly used in economics and decision theory, and on the difficulty to test it experimentally. It distinguishes between the uses of the term dynamic consistency in order to characterize two different properties: the first accounts for the neutrality of individual preferences towards the timing of resolution of uncertainty whereas the second guarantees that a strategy chosen at the beginning of a sequential decision problem is immune to any reevaluation (...) and will effectively be implemented from then on in the decision problem. Although these two properties are equivalent under expected utility, this is not the case under non-EU. Building on the possible characteristics of individual dynamic preferences under risk, this paper proposes a conceptual categorization, that is experimentally testable, of possible sequential decision making behaviors of non-EU maximizers. (shrink)
The paper introduces the concept of polar decision rules and establishes that majority rules are polar rules. We identify second best rules and penultimate rules in cases that majority rules are optimal or the most inferior, respectively. We especially specify the almost expert rule and the almost majority rule as the secondary rules of the expert and majority rules, respectively.
Stability definitions for describing human behavior under conflict when coalitions may form are generalized within the Graph Model for Conflict Resolution and algebraic formulations of these definitions are provided to allow computer implementation. The more general definitions of coalitional stabilities relax the assumption of transitive graphs capturing movements under the control of decision makers, either independently or cooperatively, and allow the convenient expansion to the case of coalitions of the four basic individual stabilities consisting of Nash stability, general metarationality, (...) symmetric metarationality, and sequential stability. To permit the various coalitional stabilities to be efficiently calculated and conveniently encoded within a decision support system, algebraic expressions for the coalitional stabilities are provided in this research. Furthermore, a range of the theorems establish the mathematical credibility of employing the innovative algebraic approach to conflict resolution when coalitions are present. Finally, a conflict over the proposed exportation of bulk water from Lake Gisborne within the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is modelled and analyzed to illustrate the practical application of the different coalitional stabilities and the strategic insights they provide. (shrink)
Two studies examined whether simple algebraic rules that have been shown to be operative in many applied settings may also be found in sport decision-making. The theoretical framework for these studies was the Functional Theory of Cognition (Anderson, Contributions to information integration theory. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1996). The way in which novices but already experienced team sport players (soccer, basketball, and handball players) combine different informational cues (relative importance of the game, numerical status of the team, current score, and (...) time left to play) for deciding a quick restart of play near the end of a match was examined. The basic finding are consistent with the proposition that the knowledge bases at work for judging the appropriateness of this type of sport decisions are structured according to simple algebraic rules. (shrink)
The theory of Markov decision processes (MDP) can be used to analyze a wide variety of stopping time problems in economics. In this paper, the nature of such problems is discussed and then the underlying theory is applied to the question of arranged marriages. We construct a stylized model of arranged marriages and, inter alia, it is shown that a decision maker's optimal policy depends only on the nature of the current marriage proposal, independent of whether there is (...) recall (storage) of previous marriage proposals. (shrink)
The paper describes a methodology to be used for analysis and design of human activity systems. The methodology is based on an analysis of the decision settings whereas most other decision analysis methodologies are analysing the process. The decision concept is analysed and discussed. A distinction between programmed and programmable as well as non-programmed and non-programmable decisions is proposed. A classification of different information types for decision making is presented. A methodology based on a systemic and (...) systematic analysis of the information requirements of an organization is proposed. This methodology also indicates organizational discrepancies and information imbalances. The methodology focuses the settings of the decisions on all levels of organizations. The methodology can be regarded as a dynamic, learning system. The author proposes further research on the individuals decision making abilities. (shrink)
This book is the most comprehensive treatment available of one of the most urgent - and yet in some respects most neglected - problems in bioethics: decision-making for incompetents. Part I develops a general theory for making treatment and care decisions for patients who are not competent to decide for themselves. It provides an in-depth analysis of competence, articulates and defends a coherent set of principles to specify suitable surrogate decisionmakers and to guide their choices, examines the value of (...) advance directives, and investigates the role that considerations of cost ought to play in decisions concerning incompetents. Part II applies this theoretical framework to the distinctive problems of three important classes of individuals, many of whom are incompetent: minors, the elderly and psychiatric patients. The authors' approach combines a probing analysis of fundamental issues in ethical theory with a sensitive awareness of the concrete realities of health care institutions and the highly personal and individual character of difficult practical problems. Its broad scope will appeal to health professionals, moral philosophers and lawyers alike. (shrink)
Rational agents face choices, even when taking seriously the possibility of determinism. Rational agents also follow the advice of Causal Decision Theory (CDT). Although many take these claims to be well-motivated, there is growing pressure to reject one of them, as CDT seems to go badly wrong in some deterministic cases. We argue that deterministic cases do not undermine a counterfactual model of rational deliberation, which is characteristic of CDT. Rather, they force us to distinguish between counterfactuals that are (...) relevant and ones that are irrelevant for the purposes of deliberation. We incorporate this distinction into decision theory to develop ‘Selective Causal Decision Theory’, which delivers the correct recommendations in deterministic cases while respecting the key motivations behind CDT. (shrink)
Across two studies the hypotheses were tested that stressful situations affect both leadership ethical acting and leaders' recognition of ethical dilemmas. In the studies, decision makers recruited from 3 sites of a Swedish multinational civil engineering company provided personal data on stressful situations, made ethical decisions, and answered to stress-outcome questions. Stressful situations were observed to have a greater impact on ethical acting than on the recognition of ethical dilemmas. This was particularly true for situations involving punishment and lack (...) of rewards. The results are important for the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of an organization, especially with regard to the analysis of the Stressors influencing managerial work and its implications for ethical behavior. (shrink)
Advanced AI systems are rapidly making their way into medical research and practice, and, arguably, it is only a matter of time before they will surpass human practitioners in terms of accuracy, reliability, and knowledge. If this is true, practitioners will have a prima facie epistemic and professional obligation to align their medical verdicts with those of advanced AI systems. However, in light of their complexity, these AI systems will often function as black boxes: the details of their contents, calculations, (...) and procedures cannot be meaningfully understood by human practitioners. When AI systems reach this level of complexity, we can also speak of black-box medicine. In this paper, we want to argue that black-box medicine conflicts with core ideals of patient-centered medicine. In particular, we claim, black-box medicine is not conducive for supporting informed decision making based on shared information, shared deliberation, and shared mind between practitioner and patient. (shrink)
In Richard Bradley's book, Decision Theory with a Human Face (2017), we have selected two themes for discussion. The first is the Bolker-Jeffrey (BJ) theory of decision, which the book uses throughout as a tool to reorganize the whole field of decision theory, and in particular to evaluate the extent to which expected utility (EU) theories may be normatively too demanding. The second theme is the redefinition strategy that can be used to defend EU theories against the (...) Allais and Ellsberg paradoxes, a strategy that the book by and large endorses, and even develops in an original way concerning the Ellsberg paradox. We argue that the BJ theory is too specific to fulfil Bradley’s foundational project and that the redefinition strategy fails in both the Allais and Ellsberg cases. Although we share Bradley’s conclusion that EU theories do not state universal rationality requirements, we reach it not by a comparison with BJ theory, but by a comparison with the non-EU theories that the paradoxes have heuristically suggested. (shrink)
Any ethical inquiry into addiction research is faced with the preliminary challenge that the term “addiction” is itself a matter of scientific and ethical controversy. Accordingly, the chapter begins with a brief history of the term “addiction.” The chapter then turns to ethical issues surrounding consent and decision-making capacity viewed from the perspective of the current opioid epidemic. One concern is the neglect of the cyclical nature of addiction and the implications of this for the validity of current psychometric (...) instruments used to evaluate decision-making capacity in addiction. Another is the apparent discrepancy—possibly an ethical double standard—in the manner in which society and addiction researchers view the mental capacity and vulnerability of individuals who suffer from severe addiction. On the whole, the main ethical concern of the chapter is the puzzling lack of clinical research on decision-making capacity in research on addiction. (shrink)
Automated decision making for sentencing is the use of a software algorithm to analyse a convicted offender’s case and deliver a sentence. This chapter reviews the moral arguments for and against employing automated decision making for sentencing and finds that its use is in principle morally permissible. Specifically, it argues that well-designed automated decision making for sentencing will better approximate the just sentence than human sentencers. Moreover, it dismisses common concerns about transparency, privacy and bias as unpersuasive (...) or inapplicable. The chapter also notes that moral disagreement about theories of just sentencing are plausibly resolved by applying the principle of maximising expected moral choiceworthiness, and that automated decision making is better suited to the resulting ensemble model. Finally, the chapter considers the challenge posed by penal populism. The dispiriting conclusion is that although it is in theory morally desirable to use automated decision-making for criminal sentencing, it may well be the case that we ought not to try. (shrink)
The principle that rational agents should maximize expected utility or choiceworthiness is intuitively plausible in many ordinary cases of decision-making under uncertainty. But it is less plausible in cases of extreme, low-probability risk (like Pascal's Mugging), and intolerably paradoxical in cases like the St. Petersburg and Pasadena games. In this paper I show that, under certain conditions, stochastic dominance reasoning can capture most of the plausible implications of expectational reasoning while avoiding most of its pitfalls. Specifically, given sufficient background (...) uncertainty about the choiceworthiness of one's options, many expectation-maximizing gambles that do not stochastically dominate their alternatives "in a vacuum" become stochastically dominant in virtue of that background uncertainty. But, even under these conditions, stochastic dominance will not require agents to accept options whose expectational superiority depends on sufficiently small probabilities of extreme payoffs. The sort of background uncertainty on which these results depend looks unavoidable for any agent who measures the choiceworthiness of her options in part by the total amount of value in the resulting world. At least for such agents, then, stochastic dominance offers a plausible general principle of choice under uncertainty that can explain more of the apparent rational constraints on such choices than has previously been recognized. (shrink)
The dispute in philosophical decision theory between causalists and evidentialists remains unsettled. Many are attracted to the causal view’s endorsement of a species of dominance reasoning, and to the intuitive verdicts it gets on a range of cases with the structure of the infamous Newcomb’s Problem. But it also faces a rising wave of purported counterexamples and theoretical challenges. In this paper I will describe a novel decision theory which saves what is appealing about the causal view while (...) avoiding its most worrying objections, and which promises to generalize to solve a set of related problems in other normative domains. (shrink)
Don't form beliefs on the basis of coin flips or random guesses. More generally, don't take belief gambles: if a proposition is no more likely to be true than false given your total body of evidence, don't go ahead and believe that proposition. Few would deny this seemingly innocuous piece of epistemic advice. But what, exactly, is wrong with taking belief gambles? Philosophers have debated versions of this question at least since the classic dispute between William Clifford and William James (...) near the end of the 19th century. Here I reassess the normative standing of belief gambles from the perspective of epistemic decision theory. The main lesson of the paper is a negative one: it turns out that we need to make some surprisingly strong and hard-to-motivate assumptions to establish a general norm against belief gambles within a decision-theoretic framework. I take this to pose a dilemma for epistemic decision theory: it forces us to either (i) make seemingly unmotivated assumptions to secure a norm against belief gambles, or (ii) concede that belief gambles can be rational after all. (shrink)