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Troisième congrès de la SPS : Sciences et décision

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Decision Theory for Chancy Environments
Wlodek Rabinowicz (Lund)

13 novembre 2009

The subjective expected utility of an option is simply the subjective expectation of its utility. As such, it might be seen as a weighted sum of the option’s utilities in various possible worlds, with weights being the subjective probabilities of these worlds. But what about this notion of utility? An option’s utility in a world depends not only on the facts obtaining in that world that concern what would happen if this option were chosen, but also – if the world’s environment is chancy – to some extent on the facts concerning what could happen if the option were chosen – on the objective chances of its possible outcomes. Or, at least, such could-considerations become relevant if the option is not chosen in the world in question, which means that its outcome cannot be read out from subsequent developments. How to combine the would- with the could-considerations in the determination of utility in a principled way is not obvious, however. I have a tentative suggestion as to how it can be done: I will argue that the two kinds of considerations can be combined using the notion of centered chances.

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