•  799
    Causal Decision Theory: A Counterexample
    Philosophical Review 122 (2): 289-306. 2013.
    The essay presents a novel counterexample to Causal Decision Theory (CDT). Its interest is that it generates a case in which CDT violates the very principles that motivated it in the first place. The essay argues that the objection applies to all extant formulations of CDT and that the only way out for that theory is a modification of it that entails incompatibilism. The essay invites the reader to find this consequence of CDT a reason to reject it.
  •  491
    Causal Decision Theory and EPR correlations
    with Adam Caulton
    Synthese 191 (18): 4315-4352. 2014.
    The paper argues that on three out of eight possible hypotheses about the EPR experiment we can construct novel and realistic decision problems on which (a) Causal Decision Theory and Evidential Decision Theory conflict (b) Causal Decision Theory and the EPR statistics conflict. We infer that anyone who fully accepts any of these three hypotheses has strong reasons to reject Causal Decision Theory. Finally, we extend the original construction to show that anyone who gives any of the three hypoth…Read more
  •  339
    Causal Decision Theory and the Fixity of the Past
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (4): 665-685. 2014.
    Causal decision theory (CDT) cares only about the effects of a contemplated act, not its causes. The article constructs a case in which CDT consequently recommends a bet that the agent is certain to lose, rather than a bet that she is certain to win. CDT is plainly giving wrong advice in this case. It therefore stands refuted. 1 The Argument2 The Argument in More Detail2.1 The betting mechanism2.2 Soft determinism2.3 The content of P 2.4 The argument again3 The Descriptive Premise3.1 Causal deci…Read more
  •  322
    Walters on Conjunction Conditionalization
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (1pt1): 115-122. 2011.
    This discussion note examines a recent argument for the principle that any counterfactual with true components is itself true. That argument rests upon two widely accepted principles of counterfactual logic to which the paper presents counterexamples. The conclusion speculates briefly upon the wider lessons that philosophers should draw from these examples for the semantics of counterfactuals
  •  315
    Evidential decision theory and medical newcomb problems
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (2): 191-198. 2005.
    has offered evidential decision theorists a defence against the charge that they make unintuitive recommendations for cases like Newcomb's Problem. He says that when conditional probabilities are assessed from the agent's point of view, evidential decision theory makes the same recommendation as intuition. I argue that calculating the probabilities in Price's way leads to no recommendation. It condemns the agent to perpetual oscillation between different options. Price's Argument Instability Obj…Read more
  •  304
    Arntzenius on ‘Why ain’cha rich?’
    with Huw Price
    Erkenntnis 77 (1): 15-30. 2012.
    The best-known argument for Evidential Decision Theory (EDT) is the ‘Why ain’cha rich?’ challenge to rival Causal Decision Theory (CDT). The basis for this challenge is that in Newcomb-like situations, acts that conform to EDT may be known in advance to have the better return than acts that conform to CDT. Frank Arntzenius has recently proposed an ingenious counter argument, based on an example in which, he claims, it is predictable in advance that acts that conform to EDT will do less well than…Read more
  •  299
    The paper offers a model of Kant's claim that unity of consciousness entails objectivity of experience. This claim has nothing especially to do with thought, language or the categories but is a general truth about arbitrary signaling systems of the sort modeled in the paper. In conclusion I draw some consequences for various forms of idealism.
  •  279
    Causal Decision Theory reckons the choice-worthiness of an option to be completely independent of its evidential bearing on its non-effects. But after one has made a choice this bearing is relevant to future decisions. Therefore it is possible to construct problems of sequential choice in which Causal Decision Theory makes a guaranteed loss. So Causal Decision Theory is wrong. The source of the problem is the idea that agents have a special perspective on their own contemplated actions, from whi…Read more
  •  250
    Hume and the Independent Witnesses
    Mind 124 (496): 1013-1044. 2015.
    The Humean argument concerning miracles says that one should always think it more likely that anyone who testifies to a miracle is lying or deluded than that the alleged miracle actually occurred, and so should always reject any single report of it. A longstanding and widely accepted objection is that even if this is right, the concurring and non-collusive testimony of many witnesses should make it rational to believe in whatever miracle they all report. I argue that on the contrary, even multip…Read more
  •  245
    Review: John McDowell (review)
    Mind 115 (458): 403-409. 2006.
  •  241
    Rationality and Future Discounting
    Topoi 39 (2): 245-256. 2018.
    The best justification of time-discounting is roughly that it is rational to care less about your more distant future because there is less of you around to have it. I argue that the standard version of this argument, which treats both psychological continuity and psychological connectedness as reasons to care about your future, can only rationalize an irrational—because exploitable—form of future discounting.
  •  240
    The paper argues against Bob Hale's (1999) argument that enquirers must regard some truths as necessary truths. Hale's argument against Quinean skepticism. like many similar arguments due to McFetridge, Wright and others, involves a quantifier shift fallacy.
  •  214
    Dicing with death
    Analysis 74 (4): 587-592. 2014.
    You should rather play hide-and-seek against someone who cannot predict where you hide than against someone who can, as the article illustrates in connection with a high-stakes example. Causal Decision Theory denies this. So Causal Decision Theory is false
  •  211
    Push the Button
    Philosophy of Science 79 (3): 386-395. 2012.
    Opponents of Causal Decision Theory (CDT) sometimes claim (i) that it gives the wrong advice in Egan-style cases, where the CDT-endorsed act brings news that it causes a bad outcome; (ii) that CDT gives the right advice in Newcomb cases, where it is known in advance that the CDT-act causes you to be richer than the alternative. This paper argues that (i) and (ii) cannot both be true if rational preference over acts is transitive.
  •  179
    Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: A Critical Guide (edited book)
    Cambridge University Press. 2010.
    Published in 1953, Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations had a deeply unsettling effect upon our most basic philosophical ideas concerning thought, sensation, and language. Its claim that philosophical questions of meaning necessitate a close analysis of the way we use language continues to influence Anglo-American philosophy today. However, its compressed and dialogic prose is not always easy to follow. This collection of essays deepens but also challenges our understanding of the work's …Read more
  •  175
    A choice function C is rational iff: if it allows a path through a sequence of decisions with a particular outcome, then that outcome is amongst the ones that C would have chosen from amongst all the possible outcomes of the sequence. This implies, and it is the strongest definition that implies, that anyone who is irrational could be talked out of their own preferences. It also implies weak but non-vacuous constraints on choices over ends. These do not include alpha or beta.
  •  175
    Infallibility in the Newcomb Problem
    Erkenntnis 80 (2): 261-273. 2015.
    It is intuitively attractive to think that it makes a difference in Newcomb’s problem whether or not the predictor is infallible, in the sense of being certainly actually correct. This paper argues that that view is irrational and manifests a well-documented cognitive illusion
  •  160
    From Game Theoretical Accounts of Cooperation to Meta-Ethical Choices
    Studies in Christian Ethics 26 (2): 176-183. 2013.
    Evolutionary game theory is ethically neutral: its assumption of ‘rationality’ has nothing to do with selfishness but is in fact entirely compatible with altruism. If altruism has an evolutionary explanation then this fact is of no theological relevance: in particular it is not any sort of evidence of a divine plan etc.
  •  158
    Causation and Decision
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 110 (2pt2): 111-131. 2010.
    Sophisticated ‘tickle’-style defences of Evidential Decision Theory take your motivational state to screen off your act from any state that is causally independent of it, thus ensuring that EDT and CDT converge. That leads to unacceptable instability in cases in which the correct action is obvious. We need a more liberal conception of what the agent controls. It follows that an ordinary deliberator should sometimes consider the past and not only the future to be subject to her present choice.
  •  148
    Abstract. Suppose that the word of an eyewitness makes it 80% probable that A committed a crime, and that B is drawn from a population in which the incidence rate of that crime is 80%. Many philosophers and legal theorists have held that if this is our only evidence against those parties then (i) we may be justified in finding against A but not against B; but (ii) that doing so incurs a loss in the accuracy of our findings. This paper argues against (ii). It argues that accuracy considerations c…Read more
  •  123
    Rigidity and Essentiality: Reply to Gomez-Torrente
    Mind 118 (469): 121-133. 2009.
    Mario Gómez-Torrente (2006) says that whilst theoretical identifications (e.g. 'All lightning is electrical discharge') do not entail their own necessitations, they do entail the necessitation of a weaker statement. And he claims that this weaker entailment serves Kripke's purposes as well as the stronger one would have. I argue that this is false. Section 1 says what the weaker entailment is; section 2 says why it matters. Section 3 argues that the entailment identified at section 1 does not me…Read more
  •  114
    W. V. Quine
    In Cheryl Misak (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of American Philosophy, Oxford University Press. pp. 290-338. 2008.
    The paper summarizes the main points of Quine's epistemology and philosophy of language: empiricism, holism, semantic behaviourism, inscrutability of reference, indterminacy of translation and the rejection of analyticity.
  •  105
    Exploiting Cyclic Preference
    Mind 126 (504): 975-1022. 2017.
    Probably many people have cyclic preferences: they prefer A to B, B to C and C to A for some objects of choice A, B and C. Recent work has resurrected the objection to cyclic preference that agents possessing them are open to exploitation by means of ‘money pumps’. The paper briefly reviews this work and proposes a general approach to problems of sequential choice that makes cyclic preference immune to exploitation by means of these new mechanisms.
  •  102
    The Meaning of Belief: Religion from an Atheist’s Point of View, by CraneTim. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2017. Pp. xiv + 203.
  •  100
    Objective Value Is Always Newcombizable
    Mind 129 (516): 1157-1192. 2020.
    This paper argues that evidential decision theory is incompatible with options having objective values. If options have objective values, then it should always be rationally permissible for an agent to choose an option if they are certain that the option uniquely maximizes objective value. But, as we show, if options have objective values and evidential decision theory is true, then it is not always rationally permissible for an agent to choose an option if they are certain that the option uniqu…Read more
  •  98
    Saul Kripke
    Bloomsbury Academic. 2007.
    Saul Kripke is one of the most important and original post-war analytic philosophers. His work has undeniably had a profound impact on the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. Yet his ideas are amongst the most challenging frequently encountered by students of philosophy. In this informative and accessible book, Arif Ahmed provides a clear and thorough account of Kripke's philosophy, his major works and ideas, providing an ideal guide to the important and complex thought of this ke…Read more
  •  97
    A decision problem where Causal Decision Theory (CDT) declines a free $1,000, with the foreseeable effect that the agent is $1,000 poorer, and in no other way better off, than if she had taken the offer.