This is a paperback edition of a major contribution to the field, first published in hard covers in 1977. The book outlines a general theory of rational behaviour consisting of individual decision theory, ethics, and game theory as its main branches. Decision theory deals with a rational pursuit of individual utility; ethics with a rational pursuit of the common interests of society; and game theory with an interaction of two or more rational individuals, each pursuing his own interests in a (...) rational manner. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to show how some of the controversial questions concerning utilitarianism can be clarified by the modelling techniques and the other analytical tools of decision theory (and, sometimes, of game theory). It is suggested that the moral rules of utilitarian ethics have a logical status similar to that of the normative rules (theorems) of such formal normative disciplines as decision theory and game theory.The paper argues that social utility should be defined, not in hedonistic or (...) in ideal-utilitarian terms, but rather in terms of individual preferences, in accordance with the author's equiprobability model of moral value judgments. (shrink)
Utilitarianism and the Concept of Social Utility In this paper I propose to discuss the concepts of equality and justice from a rule utilitarian point of view, after some comments on the rule utilitarian point of view itself. Let me start with the standard definitions. Act utilitarianism is the theory that a morally right action is one that in the existing situation will produce the highest expected social utility. In contrast, rule utilitarianism is the theory that a morally right action (...) is simply an action conforming to the correct moral rule applicable to the existing situation. The correct moral rule itself is that particular behavioral rule that would yield the highest expected social utility if it were followed by all morally motivated people in all similar situations. (shrink)
It is argued that we need a richer version of Bayesian decision theory, admitting both subjective and objective probabilities and providing rational criteria for choice of our prior probabilities. We also need a theory of tentative acceptance of empirical hypotheses. There is a discussion of subjective and of objective probabilities and of the relationship between them, as well as a discussion of the criteria used in choosing our prior probabilities, such as the principles of indifference and of maximum entropy, and (...) the simplicity ranking of alternative hypotheses. (shrink)
Philosophical errors are errors of a very peculiar nature. Obviously, errors occur in the different areas of science, as well as in everyday life. But these errors are sooner or later recognized and exposed, and – most importantly – once they are recognized and exposed, they are essentially rendered harmless, at least for those versed in the respective discipline. A false historical datum, an experimental error or a calculation mistake becomes indefensible as soon as it is noticed.
Ethics deals with two basic problems. One is what to do to have a good life from our own personal point of view, which I shall call the problem of personal wellbeing The other is what to do to have a good life from a moral point of view, which I shall call the problem of morality.
It is argued that mathematical statements are "a posteriori synthetic" statements of a very special sort, To be called "structure-Analytic" statements. They follow logically from the axioms defining the mathematical structure they are describing--Provided that these axioms are "consistent". Yet, Consistency of these axioms is an empirical claim: it may be "empirically verifiable" by existence of a finite model, Or may have the nature of an "empirically falsifiable hypothesis" that no contradiction can be derived from the axioms.
The publication in English of Karl R. Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery twenty-five years after the appearance of the German original, is an important event. At the time when many philosophers questioned the cognitive value of scientific hypotheses , Popper has shown how to reconcile the free use of bold explanatory hypotheses with an insistence on empirical testing. Many of Popper's views have now been accepted even by most of his earlier opponents, which is no small tribute to a (...) philosopher who had challenged an important current of opinion. But, though the basic aspects of Popper's theory have attracted considerable attention in recent years, some of his finer points have received insufficient discussion. It is hoped that the publication of this important book in English translation will now help to remedy this situation. (shrink)