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Title: Decision and dependence : a defence of causal decision theory
Author: Bales, Adam Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 6106
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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For several decades, causal decision theory (CDT) has been the orthodox version of philosophical decision theory. However, ever since CDT was first developed there have been those who have disputed the adequacy of this theory. Then, in the last decade and a half, opposition to this theory has intensified, with a vast array of novel objections to CDT emerging. As a result, the field of philosophical decision theory has splintered, with a large number of new versions of decision theory being developed to try to plug the gap left by the apparent collapse of CDT. However, in this thesis I will defend CDT against the objections raised against it and so dispute the need to develop a new version of decision theory. In doing so, I will address old challenges to CDT, based around Newcomb’s Problem and cases where CDT provides unstable guidance. These challenges have been around for some time. While existing solutions have been presented here, these have failed to fully resolve the disquiet that these objections raise. In this thesis, I will have more to say to resolve this disquiet so that we can set these old objections aside. In this thesis, I will also address new challenges to CDT, which have arisen in the past decade and a half. These challenges are based on appeals to quantum mechanics, prophecy, and the laws of nature, among other things. Many of these objections have not previously been addressed. However, I will argue that these challenges fail to appropriately construe CDT and so fail to truly undermine this theory. Causal decision theory, I will conclude, is a robust theory. As such, while there is much work to be done in philosophical decision theory this work involves building on, rather than replacing, CDT.
Supervisor: Holton, Richard ; Ahmed, Arif Sponsor: University of Cambridge
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Decision Theory ; Newcomb's Problem ; Causal Decision Theory ; Rationality