Decision and Intervention
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Meek and Glymour (Br J Philos Sci 45:1001–1021, 1994) use the graphical approach to causal modeling to argue that one and the same norm of rational choice can be used to deliver both causal-decision-theoretic verdicts and evidential-decision-theoretic verdicts. Specifically, they argue that if an agent maximizes conditional expected utility, then the agent will follow the causal decision theorist’s advice when she represents herself as intervening, and will follow the evidential decision theorist’s advice when she represents herself as not intervening. Since Meek and Glymour take no stand on whether agents should represent themselves as intervening, they provide more general advice than standard causal decision theorists and evidential decision theorists. But I argue here that even Meek and Glymour’s advice is not sufficiently general. This is because (1) their advice is not sensitive to the distinct ways in which agents can fail to intervene, and (2) there are decision-making contexts in which agents can reasonably have non-extreme confidence that they are intervening. I then show that the most natural extension of Meek and Glymour’s framework fails, but offer a generalization of my (Synthese 194:4133–4153, 2017) “Interventionist Decision Theory” that does not suffer from the same problems.
I am grateful to Arif Ahmed, Adam Bales, Malcolm Forster, Dmitri Gallow, Dan Hausman, Jim Joyce, Hanti Lin, Aidan Lyon, Ben Schwan, Wolfgang Schwarz, Shanna Slank, Elliott Sober, Mike Titelbaum, Naftali Weinberger, Olav Vassend, the anonymous referees, and audiences at the Australian National University and the University of Maryland for helpful discussion and comments. I am also grateful to the DFG for helping to fund my work on this project through Grant No. 623584 (Project HA3000/9-1).
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