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  • 1. Bradley, Richard
    et al.
    Stefánsson, H. Orri
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy.
    Counterfactual Desirability2017In: British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, ISSN 0007-0882, E-ISSN 1464-3537, Vol. 68, no 2, p. 485-533Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The desirability of what actually occurs is often influenced by what could have been. Preferences based on such value dependencies between actual and counterfactual outcomes generate a class of problems for orthodox decision theory, the best-known perhaps being the so-called Allais paradox. In this article we solve these problems by extending Richard Jeffrey’s decision theory to counterfactual prospects, using a multidimensional possible-world semantics for conditionals, and showing that preferences that are sensitive to counterfactual considerations can still be desirability-maximizing. We end the article by investigating the conditions necessary and sufficient for a desirability function to be a standard expected-utility function. It turns out that the additional conditions imply highly implausible epistemic principles.

  • 2. Bradley, Richard
    et al.
    Stefánsson, H. Orri
    Institute for Futures Studies, Sweden.
    Desire, Expectation and Invariance2016In: Mind (Print), ISSN 0026-4423, E-ISSN 1460-2113, Vol. 125, no 499, p. 691-725Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The Desire-as-Belief thesis (DAB) states that any rational person desires a proposition exactly to the degree that she believes or expects the proposition to be good. Many people take David Lewis to have shown the thesis to be inconsistent with Bayesian decision theory. However, as we show, Lewis's argument was based on an Invariance condition that itself is inconsistent with the (standard formulation of the) version of Bayesian decision theory that he assumed in his arguments against DAB. The aim of this paper is to explore what impact the rejection of Invariance has on the DAB thesis. Without assuming Invariance, we first refute all versions of DAB that entail that there are only two levels of goodness. We next consider two theses according to which rational desires are intimately connected to expectations of (multi-levelled) goodness, and show that these are consistent with Bayesian decision theory as long as we assume that the contents of 'value propositions' are not fixed. We explain why this conclusion is independently plausible, and show how to construct such propositions.

  • 3.
    Bykvist, Krister
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy. Institute for Futures Studies, Sweden.
    Stefánsson, H. Orri
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy. Institute for Futures Studies, Sweden.
    Epistemic transformation and rational choice2017In: Economics and Philosophy, ISSN 0266-2671, E-ISSN 1474-0028, Vol. 33, no 1, p. 123-136Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Most people at some point in their lives face transformative decisions that could result in experiences that are radically different from any that they have had, and that could radically change their personalities and preferences. For instance, most people make the conscious decision to either become or not become parents. In a recent but already influential book, L. A. Paul (2014) argues that transformative choices cannot be rational – or, more precisely, that they cannot be rational if one assumes what Paul sees as a cultural paradigm for rational decision-making. Paul arrives at this surprising conclusion due to her understanding of transformative experience as being both epistemically and personally transformative. An experience is epistemically transformative if it ‘teaches [a person] something she could not have learned without having that kind of experience’ (11), but it is personally transformative if it changes the person's point of view and her fundamental preferences (16).

  • 4.
    Steele, Katie
    et al.
    London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
    Stefánsson, H. Orri
    Institute for Futures Studies, Sweden.
    Decision Theory2015In: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN 1095-5054, E-ISSN 1095-5054Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 5.
    Stefánsson, H. Orri
    Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme, France.
    Arif Ahmed, Evidence, Decision and Causality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 20142016In: Philosophy of science (East Lansing), ISSN 0031-8248, Vol. 83, no 1, p. 159-169Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 6.
    Stefánsson, H. Orri
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy. Institute for Futures Studies, Sweden.
    Counterfactual Skepticism and Multidimensional Semantics2018In: Erkenntnis, ISSN 0165-0106, E-ISSN 1572-8420, Vol. 83, no 5, p. 875-898Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    It has recently been argued that indeterminacy and indeterminism make most ordinary counterfactuals false. I argue that a plausible way to avoid such counterfactual skepticism is to postulate the existence of primitive modal facts that serve as truth-makers for counterfactual claims. Moreover, I defend a new theory of ‘might’ counterfactuals, and develop assertability and knowledge criteria to suit such unobservable ‘counterfacts’.

  • 7.
    Stefánsson, H. Orri
    Collège d’études mondiales, France; London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
    Desirability of conditionals2016In: Synthese, ISSN 0039-7857, E-ISSN 1573-0964, Vol. 193, no 6, p. 1967-1981Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper explores the different ways in which conditionals can be carriers of good and bad news. I suggest a general measure of the desirability of conditionals, and use it to explore the different ways in which conditionals can have news value. I conclude by arguing that the desirability of a counterfactual conditional cannot be reduced to the desirability of factual propositions.

  • 8.
    Stefánsson, H. Orri
    London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
    Fair chance and modal consequentialism2015In: Economics and Philosophy, ISSN 0266-2671, E-ISSN 1474-0028, Vol. 31, no 3, p. 371-395Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper develops a Multidimensional Decision Theory and argues that it better captures ordinary intuitions about fair distribution of chances than classical decision theory. The theory is an extension of Richard Jeffrey’s decision theory to counterfactual prospects and is a form of Modal Consequentialism, according to which the value of actual outcomes often depends on what could have been. Unlike existing versions of modal consequentialism, the multidimensional decision theory allows us to explicitly model the desirabilistic dependencies between actual and counterfactual outcomes that, I contend, are at the heart of common intuitions about fair distribution of chances.

  • 9.
    Stefánsson, H. Orri
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy.
    On the Ratio Challenge for Comparativism2018In: Australasian Journal of Philosophy, ISSN 0004-8402, E-ISSN 1471-6828, Vol. 96, no 2, p. 380-390Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper discusses a challenge for comparativists about belief, who hold that numerical degree of belief (in particular, subjective probability) is a useful fiction, unlike comparative belief, which they regard as real. The challenge is to make sense of claims like ‘I am twice as confident in A as in B’ in terms of comparative belief only. After showing that at least some comparativists can meet this challenge, I discuss implications for Zynda's [2000] and Stefánsson's [2017] defences of comparativism.

  • 10.
    Stefánsson, H. Orri
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy.
    What Is 'Real' in Probabilism?2017In: Australasian Journal of Philosophy, ISSN 0004-8402, E-ISSN 1471-6828, Vol. 95, no 3, p. 573-587Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper defends two related claims about belief: first, the claim that, unlike numerical degrees of belief, comparative beliefs are primitive and psychologically real; and, second, the claim that the fundamental norm of Probabilism is not that numerical degrees of belief should satisfy the probability axioms, but rather that comparative beliefs should satisfy certain constraints.

  • 11.
    Stefánsson, H. Orri
    et al.
    Collège d’études mondiales, France.
    Bradley, Richard
    London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.
    How valuable are chances?2015In: Philosophy of science (East Lansing), ISSN 0031-8248, E-ISSN 1539-767X, Vol. 82, no 4, p. 602-625Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Chance Neutrality is the thesis that, conditional on some proposition being true (or being false), its chance of being true should be a matter of practical indifference. The aim of this article is to examine whether Chance Neutrality is a requirement of rationality. We prove that given Chance Neutrality, the Principal Principle entails a thesis called Linearity; the centerpiece of von Neumann and Morgenstern’s expected utility theory. With this in mind, we argue that the Principal Principle is a requirement of practical rationality but that Linearity is not and, hence, that Chance Neutrality is not rationally required.

  • 12.
    Stefánsson, H. Orri
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy.
    Bradley, Richard
    What is risk aversion?2018In: British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, ISSN 0007-0882, E-ISSN 1464-3537Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    According to the orthodox treatment of risk preferences in decision theory, they are to be explained in terms of the agent’s desires about concrete outcomes. The orthodoxy has been criticized both for conflating two types of attitudes and for committing agents to attitudes that do not seem rationally required. To avoid these problems, it has been suggested that an agent’s attitudes to risk should be captured by a risk function that is independent of her utility and probability functions. The main problem with that approach is that it suggests that attitudes to risk are wholly distinct from people’s (non-instrumental) desires. To overcome this problem, we develop a framework where an agent’s utility function is defined over chance propositions (that is, propositions describing objective probability distributions) as well as ordinary (non-chance) ones, and argue that one should explain different risk attitudes in terms of different forms of the utility function over such propositions.

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