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PhD Student Session: Charles Sherwood and Ze’ev Goldschmidt

27 October 2021, 4:30 pm6:00 pm

This event will take place online via Zoom. To take part just follow these instructions:

Please note that these events are routinely recorded, with the edited footage being made publicly available on our website and YouTube channel. We will only record the audio, the slides and the speaker and will not include the Q&A section. However, any question asked during the talk itself will feature in the final edit.

Charles Sherwood: “‘Never Knowingly Undersold’: The Ethics of Win/Win Negotiation”

Rational Choice Theory, in the main, assumes ideal conditions – in particular, that negotiators only agree to transactions that offer them value equal to or greater than their non-agreement position.  In other words, it assumes that every transaction is a Pareto improvement.  In our real non-ideal world, this is frequently not the case.  Negotiators may be irrational (e.g., mentally incapacitated); uninformed, misinformed or in error; conflicted; or unduly benevolent.  In such circumstances what, if any, moral obligation does a negotiator have to consider the interests of her counterparty?  I propose an obligation of mutual benefit, whereby a negotiator may optimise her own outcome subject to a side constraint: that her counterparty achieves an expected improvement (or at least no loss) relative to the non-agreement position i.e., that the transaction is a Pareto improvement.  I argue for this on intuitive grounds using the language of sharing, rights, and harm; and drawing a parallel with work done elsewhere on the implicit morality of markets.  Furthermore, I argue that the non-agreement position cannot coherently be seen as the simple status quo.  Instead, it must accommodate also threats faced and opportunities open to the counterparty, including opportunities to transact with other parties.  It follows from this that each party, while striving to optimise its own position, must seek an outcome whereby at least as much value accrues to its counterparty as could be reasonably expected from an alternative transaction.  The objective of mutual benefit is thus both a necessary and non-trivial requirement of a fair negotiation.


Ze’ev Goldschmidt: “Ordinal normative uncertainty resolution: An impossibility result” (joint work with Christian List)

In this paper we consider the problem of ordinal normative uncertainty: an agent divides her credence among multiple first-order normative theories that rank alternatives according to their choice worthiness. How should such an agent choose given her uncertainty? We investigate whether there exists a reasonable normative uncertainty resolution rule – a decision rule which takes the agent’s credal state as input and produces as output an order of the alternatives, which can guide the agent’s choices given her uncertainty. Our central result establishes an impossibility: if we require any normative uncertainty resolution rule to satisfy four prima facieplausible conditions, there exists no such rule. The upshot is that, to find a normative uncertainty resolution rule, we must relax at least one of these four conditions. We consider the available routes for doing so, and taxonomize existing proposals for normative uncertainty resolution rules according to the conditions they relax. Our analysis is a novel application of the theory of belief binarization (Dietrich and List 2018).


27 October 2021
4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Event Category:




Online via Zoom