The Difficulty of Difficulty

Adam Morton

in Bounded Thinking

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199658534
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746192 | DOI:
The Difficulty of Difficulty

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To be prudent we have to know how hard the problems we expect to face are, and this is not at all simple. In order to plan sequences of actions we have to know in advance which problems we can solve. But often we cannot know what we are going to know. This is connected with a general fact that it is often hard to know how hard a problem is. But we have other ways of succeeding at sequential problems. The chapter describes ‘possibilist virtues’, including capacities to change plans, backtrack, and re-think, which allow us to succeed in spite of frequent errors about how difficult problems will be. The chapter discusses the ‘trapdoor principle’ which explains why in retrospect the cases where we succeed seem more inevitable than they were.

Keywords: second order knowledge; dynamic choice; possibilism; actualism; complexity; difficulty

Chapter.  10064 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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