Taking Chances: Essays on Rational Choice

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Cambridge University Press, Apr 29, 1994 - Philosophy - 376 pages
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J. Howard Sobel has long been recognized as an important figure in philosophical discussions of rational decision. He has done much to help formulate the concept of causal decision theory. In this volume of essays Sobel explores the Bayesian idea that rational actions maximize expected values, where an action's expected value is a weighted average of its agent's values for its possible total outcomes. Newcomb's Problem and The Prisoner's Dilemma are discussed, and Allais-type puzzles are viewed from the perspective of causal world Bayesianism. The author establishes principles for distinguishing options in decision problems, and studies ways in which perfectly rational causal maximizers can be capable of resolute choices. Sobel also views critically Gauthier's revisionist ideas about maximizing rationality. This collection will be a desideratum for anyone working in the field of rational choice theory, whether in philosophy, economics, political science, psychology or statistics. Howard Sobel's work in decision theory is certainly among the most important, interesting and challenging that is being done by philosophers.
  

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Contents

Newcomblike problems
31
Not every prisoners dilemma is a Newcomb problem
77
Some versions of Newcombs Problem are prisoners
89
Infallible predictors
100
Kent Bach on good arguments
119
Maximizing and prospering
126
Old wine in new bottles
141
Partition theorems for causal decision theories
174
A principle for agents who are sure they can make mixed choices
215
Maximization stability of decision and actions in accordance with reason
218
Arguments and perspectives
227
Restatement and elaboration
233
Useful intentions
237
Senses in which the rational cannot intend irrational actions
238
Forming and adopting intentions
240
Magical bootstrapping and rational intentions and preferences
243

Causal decision theories need partition theorems
178
Two partition theorems
181
Fishburn and conditional acts
185
Armendt on conditional preferences
187
Partitions for U and Exclusive Partitions compared
191
Uses of partition theorems
192
A theorem for sufficiently fine partitions
195
Expected utilities and rational actions and choices
197
Definitions assumptions and restrictions
198
The ideal stability of rational decisions
200
Principles that apply tests of expected utility to actions
202
A principle that confines tests of expected utility to choices
212
Rational adoption of intentions to do things that would otherwise be irrational
246
Conclusion
251
Postscript
252
Interacting causal maximizers
255
The need for coercion
257
The hyperrational community
258
Hyperrational games
283
Utility maximizers in iterated prisoners dilemmas
330
A paradox regained
345
References
367
Index of names
375
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

Jordan Howard Sobel is Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, and Visiting Professor, University of Uppsala.

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