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Toby Solomon (LMU): Libertarian Decision Theory

30 November, 5:00 pm6:30 pm

Abstract: Causal Decision Theory has difficulty dealing with the possibility that our choices are predetermined. Many have responded to this problem by suggesting that rational decision-making in some sense presupposes that our choices are free. In this talk I offer a new decision theory—Libertarian Decision Theory—which precisely formalises this idea while retaining what Causal Decision Theory gets right. The primary criticisms that affect Libertarian Decision Theory are that it is insufficiently compatibilist and that it asks us to sometimes bet against our evidence. I offer an argument—the Free Will Wager—that simultaneously shows that Libertarian Decision Theory is neither too compatibilist nor too incompatibilist—it is just as compatibilist as it should be—and justifies betting against our evidence in the relevant situations. I consider a number of problem cases for Causal Decision Theory involving various kinds of predetermination and argue that Libertarian Decision Theory gets the right results in all of them. (In the full version of the paper I also show that Libertarian Decision Theory can deal successfully with both chancy and mere constraint cases—which raise the same structural problem for Causal Decision Theory as predetermination does. I also show that Libertarian Decision Theory captures the motivations for two similar views while avoiding their worst costs—namely, Levi’s deliberation crowds out prediction thesis and Ramey’s thesis that our presents acts are ultimate evidential contingencies. Finally, I show that Libertarian Decision Theory is consistent with a dynamic conception of deliberation (introduced by Skyrms and championed by Joyce and Arntzenius) that can solve difficulties Causal Decision Theory has with unratifiable options—for example, Egan’s Psychopath Button case.)

Toby Solomon is a Postdoctoral Researcher LMU, Germany.

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30 November
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Event Category:




Online via Zoom