•  698
    Impermissive Bayesianism
    Erkenntnis 79 (Suppl 6): 1185-1217. 2013.
    This paper examines the debate between permissive and impermissive forms of Bayesianism. It briefly discusses some considerations that might be offered by both sides of the debate, and then replies to some new arguments in favor of impermissivism offered by Roger White. First, it argues that White’s defense of Indifference Principles is unsuccessful. Second, it contends that White’s arguments against permissive views do not succeed.
  •  134
    Theories that use expected utility maximization to evaluate acts have difficulty handling cases with infinitely many utility contributions. In this paper I present and motivate a way of modifying such theories to deal with these cases, employing what I call “direct difference taking”. This proposal has a number of desirable features: it’s natural and well-motivated, it satisfies natural dominance intuitions, and it yields plausible prescriptions in a wide range of cases. I then compare my accoun…Read more
  •  145
    Difference Minimizing Theory
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6. 2019.
    Standard decision theory has trouble handling cases involving acts without finite expected values. This paper has two aims. First, building on earlier work by Colyvan (2008), Easwaran (2014), and Lauwers and Vallentyne (2016), it develops a proposal for dealing with such cases, Difference Minimizing Theory. Difference Minimizing Theory provides satisfactory verdicts in a broader range of cases than its predecessors. And it vindicates two highly plausible principles of standard decision theory, S…Read more
  •  103
    In this paper we apply the popular Best System Account of laws to typical eternal worlds – both classical eternal worlds and eternal worlds of the kind posited by popular contemporary cosmological theories. We show that, according to the Best System Account, such worlds will have no laws that meaningfully constrain boundary conditions. It’s generally thought that lawful constraints on boundary conditions are required to avoid skeptical arguments. Thus the lack of such laws given the Best System …Read more
  •  392
    Deference and Uniqueness
    Philosophical Studies 176 (3): 709-732. 2019.
    Deference principles are principles that describe when, and to what extent, it’s rational to defer to others. Recently, some authors have used such principles to argue for Evidential Uniqueness, the claim that for every batch of evidence, there’s a unique doxastic state that it’s permissible for subjects with that total evidence to have. This paper has two aims. The first aim is to assess these deference-based arguments for Evidential Uniqueness. I’ll show that these arguments only work given a …Read more
  •  754
    Clark and Shackel have recently argued that previous attempts to resolve the two-envelope paradox fail, and that we must look to symmetries of the relevant expected-value calculations for a solution. Clark and Shackel also argue for a novel solution to the peeking case, a variant of the two-envelope scenario in which you are allowed to look in your envelope before deciding whether or not to swap. Whatever the merits of these solutions, they go beyond accepted decision theory, even contradicting …Read more
  •  397
    Autonomous Chances and the Conflicts Problem
    In Alastair Wilson (ed.), Asymmetries in Chance and Time, Oxford University Press. pp. 45-67. 2014.
    In recent work, Callender and Cohen (2009) and Hoefer (2007) have proposed variants of the account of chance proposed by Lewis (1994). One of the ways in which these accounts diverge from Lewis’s is that they allow special sciences and the macroscopic realm to have chances that are autonomous from those of physics and the microscopic realm. A worry for these proposals is that autonomous chances may place incompatible constraints on rational belief. I examine this worry, and attempt to determine …Read more
  •  899
    Representation theorems and the foundations of decision theory
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4). 2011.
    Representation theorems are often taken to provide the foundations for decision theory. First, they are taken to characterize degrees of belief and utilities. Second, they are taken to justify two fundamental rules of rationality: that we should have probabilistic degrees of belief and that we should act as expected utility maximizers. We argue that representation theorems cannot serve either of these foundational purposes, and that recent attempts to defend the foundational importance of repres…Read more
  •  529
    Ur-Priors, Conditionalization, and Ur-Prior Conditionalization
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 3. 2016.
    Conditionalization is a widely endorsed rule for updating one’s beliefs. But a sea of complaints have been raised about it, including worries regarding how the rule handles error correction, changing desiderata of theory choice, evidence loss, self-locating beliefs, learning about new theories, and confirmation. In light of such worries, a number of authors have suggested replacing Conditionalization with a different rule — one that appeals to what I’ll call “ur-priors”. But different authors ha…Read more
  •  807
    Two mistakes regarding the principal principle
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (2): 407-431. 2010.
    This paper examines two mistakes regarding David Lewis’ Principal Principle that have appeared in the recent literature. These particular mistakes are worth looking at for several reasons: The thoughts that lead to these mistakes are natural ones, the principles that result from these mistakes are untenable, and these mistakes have led to significant misconceptions regarding the role of admissibility and time. After correcting these mistakes, the paper discusses the correct roles of time and adm…Read more
  •  702
    This pair of articles provides a critical commentary on contemporary approaches to statistical mechanical probabilities. These articles focus on the two ways of understanding these probabilities that have received the most attention in the recent literature: the epistemic indifference approach, and the Lewis-style regularity approach. These articles describe these approaches, highlight the main points of contention, and make some attempts to advance the discussion. The first of these articles pr…Read more
  •  445
    Can All-Accuracy Accounts Justify Evidential Norms?
    In Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij & Jeff Dunn (eds.), Epistemic Consequentialism, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    Some of the most interesting recent work in formal epistemology has focused on developing accuracy-based approaches to justifying Bayesian norms. These approaches are interesting not only because they offer new ways to justify these norms, but because they potentially offer a way to justify all of these norms by appeal to a single, attractive epistemic goal: having accurate beliefs. Recently, Easwaran & Fitelson (2012) have raised worries regarding whether such “all-accuracy” or “purely alethic”…Read more
  •  624
    Sleeping beauty and the dynamics of de se beliefs
    Philosophical Studies 138 (2): 245-269. 2008.
    This paper examines three accounts of the sleeping beauty case: an account proposed by Adam Elga, an account proposed by David Lewis, and a third account defended in this paper. It provides two reasons for preferring the third account. First, this account does a good job of capturing the temporal continuity of our beliefs, while the accounts favored by Elga and Lewis do not. Second, Elga’s and Lewis’ treatments of the sleeping beauty case lead to highly counterintuitive consequences. The propose…Read more
  •  556
    No Work For a Theory of Universals
    with M. Eddon
    In Jonathan Schaffer & Barry Loewer (eds.), A Companion to David Lewis, Wiley-blackwell. pp. 116-137. 2015.
    Several variants of Lewis's Best System Account of Lawhood have been proposed that avoid its commitment to perfectly natural properties. There has been little discussion of the relative merits of these proposals, and little discussion of how one might extend this strategy to provide natural property-free variants of Lewis's other accounts, such as his accounts of duplication, intrinsicality, causation, counterfactuals, and reference. We undertake these projects in this paper. We begin by providi…Read more
  •  771
    Three proposals regarding a theory of chance
    Philosophical Perspectives 19 (1). 2005.
    I argue that the theory of chance proposed by David Lewis has three problems: (i) it is time asymmetric in a manner incompatible with some of the chance theories of physics, (ii) it is incompatible with statistical mechanical chances, and (iii) the content of Lewis's Principal Principle depends on how admissibility is cashed out, but there is no agreement as to what admissible evidence should be. I proposes two modifications of Lewis's theory which resolve these difficulties. I conclude by tenta…Read more
  •  681
    This pair of articles provides a critical commentary on contemporary approaches to statistical mechanical probabilities. These articles focus on the two ways of understanding these probabilities that have received the most attention in the recent literature: the epistemic indifference approach, and the Lewis-style regularity approach. These articles describe these approaches, highlight the main points of contention, and make some attempts to advance the discussion. The second of these articles d…Read more
  •  1962
    Person-affecting views and saturating counterpart relations
    Philosophical Studies 158 (2): 257-287. 2012.
    In Reasons and Persons, Parfit (1984) posed a challenge: provide a satisfying normative account that solves the Non-Identity Problem, avoids the Repugnant and Absurd Conclusions, and solves the Mere-Addition Paradox. In response, some have suggested that we look toward person-affecting views of morality for a solution. But the person-affecting views that have been offered so far have been unable to satisfy Parfit's four requirements, and these views have been subject to a number of independent c…Read more
  •  250
    Review of Toby Handfield, A Philosophical Guide to Chance (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2013. 2013.
    This is a review of Toby Handfield's book, "A Philosophical Guide to Chance", that discusses Handfield's Debunking Argument against realist accounts of chance.
  •  1014
    Binding and its consequences
    Philosophical Studies 149 (1): 49-71. 2010.
    In “Bayesianism, Infinite Decisions, and Binding”, Arntzenius et al. (Mind 113:251–283, 2004 ) present cases in which agents who cannot bind themselves are driven by standard decision theory to choose sequences of actions with disastrous consequences. They defend standard decision theory by arguing that if a decision rule leads agents to disaster only when they cannot bind themselves, this should not be taken to be a mark against the decision rule. I show that this claim has surprising implicati…Read more
  •  515
    Unravelling the Tangled Web: Continuity, Internalism, Non-Uniqueness and Self-Locating Beliefs
    In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology Volume 3, Oxford University Press. pp. 86. 2010.
    A number of cases involving self-locating beliefs have been discussed in the Bayesian literature. I suggest that many of these cases, such as the sleeping beauty case, are entangled with issues that are independent of self-locating beliefs per se. In light of this, I propose a division of labor: we should address each of these issues separately before we try to provide a comprehensive account of belief updating. By way of example, I sketch some ways of extending Bayesianism in order to accommoda…Read more
  •  37
    Chance and the dynamics of de se beliefs
    Dissertation, Rutgers. 2007.
    How should our beliefs change over time? The standard answer to this question is the Bayesian one. But while the Bayesian account works well with respect to beliefs about the world, it breaks down when applied to self-locating or de se beliefs. In this work I explore ways to extend Bayesianism in order to accommodate de se beliefs. I begin by assessing, and ultimately rejecting, attempts to resolve these issues by appealing to Dutch books and chance-credence principles. I then propose and examin…Read more
  •  768
    Understanding Conditionalization
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (5): 767-797. 2015.
    At the heart of the Bayesianism is a rule, Conditionalization, which tells us how to update our beliefs. Typical formulations of this rule are underspecified. This paper considers how, exactly, this rule should be formulated. It focuses on three issues: when a subject’s evidence is received, whether the rule prescribes sequential or interval updates, and whether the rule is narrow or wide scope. After examining these issues, it argues that there are two distinct and equally viable versions of Co…Read more
  •  267
    The Meta-Reversibility Objection
    In Barry Loewer, Brad Weslake & Eric Winsberg (eds.), Time's Arrow and the Probability Structure of the World, . forthcoming.
    One popular approach to statistical mechanics understands statistical mechanical probabilities as measures of rational indifference. Naive formulations of this ``indifference approach'' face reversibility worries - while they yield the right prescriptions regarding future events, they yield the wrong prescriptions regarding past events. This paper begins by showing how the indifference approach can overcome the standard reversibility worries by appealing to the Past Hypothesis. But, the paper ar…Read more