The crucial premise of the standard argument for two-boxing in Newcomb's problem, a causal dominance principle, is false. We present some counterexamples. We then offer a metaethical explanation for why the counterexamples arise. Our explanation reveals a new and superior argument for two-boxing, one that eschews the causal dominance principle in favor of a principle linking rational choice to guidance and actual value maximization.
The 'Why ain'cha rich?' argument for one-boxing in Newcomb's problem allegedly vindicates evidential decision theory and undermines causal decision theory. But there is a good response to the argument on behalf of causal decision theory. I develop this response. Then I pose a new problem and use it to give a new 'Why ain'cha rich?' argument. Unlike the old argument, the new argument targets evidential decision theory. And unlike the old argument, the new argument is sound.
Suppose that you have to take a test tomorrow but you do not want to study. Unfortunately you should study, since you care about passing and you expect to pass only if you study. Is there anything you can do to make it the case that you should not study? Is there any way for you to ‘rationalize’ slacking off? I suggest that such rationalization is impossible. Then I show that if evidential decision theory is true, rationalization is not only (...) possible but sometimes advisable. (shrink)
The surprise exam paradox is an apparently sound argument to the apparently absurd conclusion that a surprise exam cannot be given within a finite exam period. A closer look at the logic of the paradox shows the argument breaking down immediately. So why do the beginning stages of the argument appear sound in the first place? This paper presents an account of the paradox on which its allure is rooted in a common probabilistic mistake: the base rate fallacy. The account (...) predicts that the paradoxical argument should get less and less convincing as it goes along—a prediction I take to be welcome. On a bleaker note, the account suggests that the base rate fallacy may be more widespread than previously thought. (shrink)