Articles

Heart of DARCness (with Huw Price)
We propose a valid core for the much-disputed thesis that Deliberation Crowds Out Prediction, and identify terminological causes for some of the apparent disputes.
A Simpler and More Realistic Subjective Decision Theory (with Haim Gaifman)
In his classic book “the Foundations of Statistics” Savage develops a formal system of rational decision making. It is based on (i) a set of possible states of the world, (ii) a set of consequences, (iii) a set of acts, which are functions from states to consequences, and (iv) a preference relation over the acts, which represents the preferences of an idealized rational agent. The goal and the culmination of the enterprise is a representation theorem: Any preference relation that satisfies certain arguably acceptable postulates determines a (finitely additive) probability distribution over the states and a utility assignment to the consequences, such that the preferences among acts are determined by their expected utilities. Additional problematic assumptions are however required in Savage’s proofs. First, there is a Boolean algebra of events (sets of states) which determines the richness of the set of acts. The probabilities are assigned to members of this algebra. Savage’s proof requires that this be a σ-algebra (i.e., closed under infinite countable unions and intersections), which makes for an extremely rich preference relation. On Savage’s view we should not require subjective probabilities to be σ-additive. He therefore finds the insistence on a σ-algebra peculiar and is unhappy with it. But he sees no way of avoiding it. Second, the assignment of utilities requires the constant act assumption: for every consequence there is a constant act, which produces that consequence in every state. This assumption is known to be highly counterintuitive. The present work contains two mathematical results. The first, and the more difficult one, shows that the σ-algebra assumption can be dropped. The second states that, as long as utilities are assigned to finite gambles only, the constant act assumption can be replaced by the more plausible and much weaker assumption that there are at least two non-equivalent constant acts. The second result also employs a novel way of deriving utilities in Savage-style systems—without appealing to von Neumann-Morgenstern lotteries. The paper discusses the notion of “idealized agent” that underlies Savage’s approach, and argues that the simplified system, which is adequate for all the actual purposes for which the system is designed, involves a more realistic notion of an idealized agent.
Synthese, forthcoming
DOI | PDF
The Sure-thing Principle and P2
This paper offers a fine analysis of different versions of the well known sure-thing principle. We show that Savage’s formal formulation of the principle, i.e., his second postulate (P2), is strictly stronger than what is intended originally.
Economics Letters, 159: 221–223. 2017
DOI | PDF
Frege's Begriffsschrift is Indeed First-order Complete
It is widely taken that the first-order part of Frege’s Begriffsschrift is complete. However, there does not seem to have been a formal verification of this received claim. The general concern is that Frege’s system is one axiom short in the first-order predicate calculus comparing to, by now, standard first-order theory. Yet Frege has one extra inference rule in his system. Then the question is whether Frege’s first-order calculus is still deductively sufficient as far as first-order completeness is concerned. In this short note we confirm that the missing axiom is derivable from his stated axioms and inference rules, and hence the logic system in the Begriffsschrift is indeed first-order complete.
History and Philosophy of Logic, 38(4): 342–344, 2017
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Expositions

Elements of Bayesian Decision Theory
An introduction to classical Bayesian Decision Theory including von Neumann–Morgenstern utility theory, Anscombe-Aumann model, and Savage’s theory of subjective expected utility.
PDF
Incompleteness Results and Provability Logic
Gödel’s incompleteness results, Löb’s theorem, and Solovay’s arithmetic completeness theorems.
PDF
Uniform Distribution over the Natural Numbers
Set-theoretic construction of uniform distribution over the natural numbers.
PDF
Fixed-point Theorems in Game Theory
Sperner’s lemma, Brouwer and Kakutani fixed-point theorems used in showing Nash.
PDF
Visualizing Modal Systems
Just a nice diagram of various modal systems.
PDF