Paper Review: Decision Theory Without Representation Theorems

Decision theory seeks to understand how rational agents should act. More specifically, I am talking about normative decision theory. There is also descriptive decision theory which tries to characterize how people in fact act. For this post (and most of my posts) I will focus on normative decision theory. Importantly, the "should" here is not… Continue reading Paper Review: Decision Theory Without Representation Theorems

Paper Review: Difficulties in the Theory of Personal Probability

Readers of the blog will know that I am a fan of the Bayesian approach to probability. This approach is also sometimes called "personal probability", because it takes probabilities to be the degrees of belief (or credences) of rational agents. We can think of using probability like this as a framework for managing uncertainty in… Continue reading Paper Review: Difficulties in the Theory of Personal Probability

Paper Review: Bell’s Theorem: The Price of Locality

Quantum phenomena--and the theories built to account for them--can be strange. One of the most fundamental and (to some), spooky, things about quantum mechanics is action at a distance. What exactly is action at a distance in quantum mechanics, and what are its implications? This is one of the central questions of Tim Maudlin's book… Continue reading Paper Review: Bell’s Theorem: The Price of Locality

Paper Review: Why Conditionalize?

How should we change our beliefs in the light of new information? This is one of the central questions of epistemology, and has great practical importance. For example, consider a doctor who has a patient who is concerned he might have cancer. The doctor has certain beliefs: for example, she may think that her patient… Continue reading Paper Review: Why Conditionalize?

Paper Review: No Free Lunch Theorem, Inductive Skepticism, and the Optimality of Meta-induction

The infamous no free lunch theorem (NFL theorem) asserts that all computable prediction methods have equal expected success. Computer scientists, and occasionally philosophers, often describe this result as a computer-science cousin of Hume's problem of induction. Given this theorem, one might think that trying to design a better or worse prediction algorithm for general prediction tasks is pointless:… Continue reading Paper Review: No Free Lunch Theorem, Inductive Skepticism, and the Optimality of Meta-induction

Paper Review: Symmetry and its Discontents

Why should one expect the future to resemble the past? This is one formulation of Hume's problem of induction. Consider the claim that the sun will rise tomorrow. Why should we expect this? It is true that it has risen every day we've been alive, and every day for a few billion years before that.… Continue reading Paper Review: Symmetry and its Discontents