Is it rational for me to want to have a child if I cannot know what it will be like to have a child? Laurie Paul, in her book Transformative Experience, argues that this question poses a significant problem for traditional theories of decision-making. Paul holds that many major life decisions are ones in which… Continue reading Can one rationally choose to have a child?
We've seen before on this blog that we often take probability theory to be the core of rational belief. What we haven't seen before is that our beliefs tend to violate probability theory not just in random ways, which is what you would expect if you thought we were making random mistakes, but systematically, in… Continue reading Paper Review: The Rational Status of Quantum Cognition
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
Can two rational people agree to disagree? This question seems really important to me. When having a conversation with a friend, for example, if we are both good-faith rational actors who are engaged in a collective truth-seeking endeavor (as is my hope!), is it possible that we can agree to disagree? Of course, in the… Continue reading Paper Review: Agreeing to Disagree
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
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?
Bayesian learning and decision theory (arguably) characterize rationality for idealized agents. However, carrying out Bayesian calculations can often be costly. In particular, the kind of agent one is--whether a human, lizard, or computer--constrains the kind of information processing one can do. This gestures towards a question: what is the relationship between idealized rationality and rationality… Continue reading Paper Review: Bayes, Bounds, and Rational Analysis