Chapter

The Third Challenge: Rationality Over Time

José Luis Bermúdez

in Decision Theory and Rationality

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780199548026
Published online May 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720246 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199548026.003.0005
 The Third Challenge: Rationality Over Time

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This chapter explores the challenge of developing decision theory to do justice to the sequential and diachronic nature of decision making. Classical decision theory is governed by a separability principle according to which deliberation at a time is answerable only to the agent's utility function at that time. This opens the door to forms of sequential inconsistency in which an agent makes a plan and then fails to carry it through in what is often called myopic choice. Decision theorists have proposed a number of ways of dealing with sequential inconsistency. These include models of sophisticated choice, resolute choice, and rational preference change. Each model works for some of the explanatory projects associated with the different dimensions of rationality, but none works for all.

Keywords: sequential inconsistency; myopic choice; sophisticated choice; resolute choice; separability principle; substitution axiom; sure-thing principle

Chapter.  19670 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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