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H. Orri Stefansson
Stockholm University
  1. On the Limits of the Precautionary Principle.H. Orri Stefansson - forthcoming - Risk Analysis.
    The Precautionary Principle (PP) is an influential principle of risk management. It has been widely introduced into environmental legislation, and it plays an important role in most international environmental agreements. Yet, there is little consensus on precisely how to understand and formulate the principle. In this paper I prove some impossibility results for two plausible formulations of the PP as a decision-rule. These results illustrate the difficulty in making the PP consistent with the acceptance of any trade-offs between catastrophic risks (...)
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  2. Is Risk Aversion Irrational?H. Orri Stefánsson - forthcoming - Synthese:1-13.
    A moderately risk averse person may turn down a 50/50 gamble that either results in her winning $200 or losing $100. Such behaviour seems rational if, for instance, the pain of losing $100 is felt more strongly than the joy of winning $200. The aim of this paper is to examine an influential argument that some have interpreted as showing that such moderate risk aversion is irrational. After presenting an axiomatic argument that I take to be the strongest case for (...)
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  3. Fair Chance and Modal Consequentialism.H. Orri Stefánsson - 2015 - Economics and Philosophy 31 (3):371-395.
    This paper develops a Multidimensional Decision Theory and argues that it better captures ordinary intuitions about fair distribution of chances than classical decision theory. The theory is an extension of Richard Jeffrey’s decision theory to counterfactual prospects and is a form of Modal Consequentialism, according to which the value of actual outcomes often depends on what could have been. Unlike existing versions of modal consequentialism, the multidimensional decision theory allows us to explicitly model the desirabilistic dependencies between actual and counterfactual (...)
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  4. Counterfactual Desirability.Richard Bradley & H. Orri Stefánsson - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2):485-533.
    The desirability of what actually occurs is often influenced by what could have been. Preferences based on such value dependencies between actual and counterfactual outcomes generate a class of problems for orthodox decision theory, the best-known perhaps being the so-called Allais Paradox. In this paper we solve these problems by extending Richard Jeffrey's decision theory to counterfactual prospects, using a multidimensional possible-world semantics for conditionals, and showing that preferences that are sensitive to counterfactual considerations can still be desirability maximising. We (...)
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  5. What Is Risk Aversion?H. Orri Stefánsson & Richard Bradley - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):77-102.
    According to the orthodox treatment of risk preferences in decision theory, they are to be explained in terms of the agent's desires about concrete outcomes. The orthodoxy has been criticised both for conflating two types of attitudes and for committing agents to attitudes that do not seem rationally required. To avoid these problems, it has been suggested that an agent's attitudes to risk should be captured by a risk function that is independent of her utility and probability functions. The main (...)
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  6. Desire, Expectation, and Invariance.Richard Bradley & H. Orri Stefánsson - 2016 - Mind 125 (499):691-725.
    The Desire-as-Belief thesis (DAB) states that any rational person desires a proposition exactly to the degree that she believes or expects the proposition to be good. Many people take David Lewis to have shown the thesis to be inconsistent with Bayesian decision theory. However, as we show, Lewis's argument was based on an Invariance condition that itself is inconsistent with the (standard formulation of the) version of Bayesian decision theory that he assumed in his arguments against DAB. The aim of (...)
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  7.  50
    What is "Real" in Probabilism?H. Orri Stefánsson - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):573-587.
    This paper defends two related claims about belief. First, the claim that unlike numerical degrees of belief, comparative beliefs are primitive and psychologically real. Second, the claim that the fundamental norm of Probabilism is not that numerical degrees of belief should satisfy the probability axioms, but rather that comparative beliefs should satisfy certain constraints.
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  8.  54
    Desires, Beliefs and Conditional Desirability.H. Orri Stefánsson - 2014 - Synthese 191 (16):4019-4035.
    Does the desirability of a proposition depend on whether it is true? Not according to the Invariance assumption, held by several notable philosophers. The Invariance assumption plays an important role in David Lewis’ famous arguments against the so-called Desire-as-Belief thesis (DAB), an anti-Humean thesis according to which a rational agent desires a proposition exactly to the degree that she believes the proposition to be desirable. But the assumption is of interest independently of Lewis’ arguments, for instance since both Richard Jeffrey (...)
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  9. Decision Theory.Katie Steele & H. Orri Stefánsson - 2015 - In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  10.  48
    On the Ratio Challenge for Comparativism.H. Orri Stefánsson - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (2):380-390.
    This paper discusses a challenge for Comparativists about belief, who hold that numerical degree of belief (in particular, subjective probability) is a useful fiction, unlike comparative belief, which they regard as real. The challenge is to make sense of claims like ‘I am twice as confident in A as in B’ in terms of comparative belief only. After showing that at least some Comparativists can meet this challenge, I discuss implications for Zynda’s [2000] and Stefánsson’s [2017] defences of Comparativism.
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  11.  24
    Risk and Rationality. [REVIEW]H. Orri Stefánsson - 2014 - Economics and Philosophy 30 (2):252-260.
  12.  45
    Epistemic Transformation and Rational Choice.Krister Bykvist & H. Orri Stefánsson - 2017 - Economics and Philosophy 33 (1):125-138.
    L. A. Paul has recently argued that the epistemically transformative nature of certain experiences makes it impossible to rationally decide whether to have the experience or not. We start by explaining why, contrary to what Paul claims, epistemically transformative experiences do not pose a general problem for the possibility of rational choice. However, we show there is a particular type of agent for whom the problem identified by Paul does arise. With this agent in mind, we examine Paul’s own suggestion (...)
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  13.  28
    Gambling with Death.H. Orri Stefánsson - forthcoming - Topoi:1-11.
    Orthodox expected utility theory imposes too stringent restrictions on what attitudes to risk one can rationally hold. Focusing on a life-and-death gamble, I identify as the main culprit the theory’s Linearity property, according to which the utility of a particular change in the risk of a bad outcome is independent of the original level of risk. Finally, I argue that a recent non-standard Bayesian decision theory, that does not have this property, handles risky gambles better than the orthodox theory.
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  14.  57
    Review of A. Ahmed, Evidence, Decision and Causality. [REVIEW]H. Orri Stefánsson - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (1):159-169.
  15.  35
    A Lewisian Trilemma.H. Orri Stefánsson - 2014 - Ratio 27 (3):262-275.
    According to one reading of the thesis of Humean Supervenience, most famously defended by David Lewis, certain ‘fundamental’ (non-modal) facts entail all there is but do not supervene on less fundamental facts. However, in this paper I prove that it follows from Lewis' possible world semantics for counterfactuals, in particular his Centring condition, that all non-modal facts supervene on counterfactuals. Humeans could respond to this result by either giving up Centring or abandoning the idea that the most fundamental facts do (...)
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