Can rational choice guide us to correct de se beliefs?


Journal Article

© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Significant controversy remains about what constitute correct self-locating beliefs in scenarios such as the Sleeping Beauty problem, with proponents on both the “halfer” and “thirder” sides. To attempt to settle the issue, one natural approach consists in creating decision variants of the problem, determining what actions the various candidate beliefs prescribe, and assessing whether these actions are reasonable when we step back. Dutch book arguments are a special case of this approach, but other Sleeping Beauty games have also been constructed to make similar points. Building on a recent article (Shaw, Synthese 190(3):491–508, 2013), I show that in general we should be wary of such arguments, because unintuitive actions may result for reasons that are unrelated to the beliefs. On the other hand, I show that, when we restrict our attention to additive games, then a thirder will necessarily maximize her ex ante expected payout, but a halfer in some cases will not (assuming causal decision theory). I conclude that this does not necessarily settle the issue and speculate about what might.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Conitzer, V

Published Date

  • December 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 192 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 4107 - 4119

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-0964

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0039-7857

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11229-015-0737-x

Citation Source

  • Scopus