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David Hume, David Lewis, and decision theory

Byrne, Alex and Hájek, Alan (1997) David Hume, David Lewis, and decision theory. Mind, 106 (423). pp. 411-428. ISSN 0026-4423. doi:10.1093/mind/106.423.411.

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David Lewis claims that a simple sort of anti-Humeanism-that the rational agent desires something to the extent he believes it to be good-can be given a decision-theoretic formulation, which Lewis calls 'Desire as Belief' (DAB). Given the (widely held) assumption that Jeffrey conditionalising is a rationally permissible way to change one's mind in the face of new evidence, Lewis proves that DAB leads to absurdity. Thus, according to Lewis, the simple form of anti-Humeanism stands refuted. In this paper we investigate whether Lewis's case against DAB can be strengthened by examining how it fares under rival versions of decision theory, including other conceptions of rational ways to change one's mind. We argue that the anti-Humean may escape Lewis's argument either by adopting a version of causal decision theory, or by claiming that the refutation only applies to hyper-idealised rational agents, or by denying that the decision-theoretic framework has the expressive capacity to formulate anti-Humeanism.

Item Type:Article
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Additional Information:© 1997 Oxford University Press.
Issue or Number:423
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120119-142137115
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:28869
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:13 Apr 2012 21:36
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 17:01

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