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Title: Options for decision theory
Author: Mullen, Gary James
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 0714
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2018
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Decision theory says that an agent ought to choose an option that is evaluated best in light of the agent's beliefs and desires. But what gets to count as an option? I propose an account of options, which, in a typical case, entails that your options are decisions that you are certain you can make. Although we normally talk as if actions are rational and irrational, it is the evaluations of decisions that are decisive in determining what an agent ought to do. Another upshot of this account is that options are determined from the agent's perspective, much like decision theoretic evaluations of options. The motivations for my account are twofold. First, a puzzle: an option must be available to the agent on both a subjective and objective reading, but it looks difficult for a candidate option to be both. I say that options are determined from the agent's perspective because that is the best way to resolve this puzzle. Key to my argument will be a sophisticated formulation of decision theory, on which, it says that an agent ought to do as much as she can of the best option. The second motivation is that an account of options must deliver plausible verdicts in some tricky test cases. I say that options are decisions because this offers the best hope of doing that. As well as construing options as decisions, I construe them as counterfactuals so that I can deal with otherwise puzzling cases where the agent is uncertain about her decision-making abilities. This is a novel construal of an option, one on which an option isn't action-like. Finally, I look at the consequences of my account for a theory of rational deliberation. If options are decisions, it's natural to think that rational deliberation involves decision instability.
Supervisor: Williams, J. R. G. ; Elliott, Ed Sponsor: WRoCAH
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available