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Title: Rationality and time : a multiple-self model of personal identity over time for decision and game theory
Author: Heilmann, Conrad
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis presents extensions to formal theories of rationality in order to analyse intertemporal decisions. It offers multiple-self models of the decision-maker's personal identity over time. These models complement decision and game theory and are used to develop the new accounts of time discounting, backward induction, and preference change that are presented in this thesis. The first part of the thesis develops multiple-self models of personal identity over time. These models depict a rational decision-maker as a series of different but interconnected temporal selves. The models allow one to relax the assumption that a rational decision-maker is a diachronically stable entity. Moreover, they structurally cohere with key problems and distinctions in theories of personal identity over time. In the second part of the thesis, three problems of time in decision and game theory are analysed. Firstly, the problem of time discounting is considered. General foundations of time discounting are given in a measurement-theoretic framework. In the multiple-self interpretation of a decision-maker, the discounting factor represents the degree of connectedness between temporal selves in a person. Secondly, the reasoning method of backward induction in interactions over time is considered. Sufficient conditions for backward induction are given by formulating a belief revision policy on the basis of intrapersonal connectedness of players. Thirdly, preference change is considered. A new characterisation of diachronic inconsistency in terms of conflicts in intrapersonal connectedness is given. The multiple-self models presented here allow one to represent the internal temporal structure of decision-makers. They capture problems of the interplay between rationality, identity, and time, thereby elucidating new accounts of time discounting, backward induction, and preference change. More generally, this thesis offers a new approach to modelling the intertemporal aggregation of value, which possesses broader relevance for decision theory, the foundations of economics, social epistemology as well as environmental ethics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available