PHIL 411: Theories of Decision

PHIL 411-001: Theories of Decision
(Spring 2020)

03:00 PM to 04:15 PM TR

Robinson Hall B368

Section Information for Spring 2020

Fulfills a requirement for the PPE concentration; or, fulfills the requirement for a course in the analytic tradition for the philosophy major.

This course investigates rational decision making in individual, competitive, and cooperative contexts. We begin by examining how a single agent ought to act in a choice situation given her knowledge about the world and her particular risk profile. We will examine various problems for decision theory such as the Allais Paradox, Newcomb’s Problem, and the Ellsberg Paradox. We then move on to game theory and explore different kinds of competitive and cooperative strategic interactions between agents, define different kinds of solutions (or equilibria) of these games, and apply game theory to the study of morality and convention.

The course introduces students to decision and game theoretic models, applies these models to philosophical problems, and investigates the assumptions behind these models. There are no prerequisites, but some familiarity with statistics, probability and elementary logic and well-developed basic math skills will contribute to student success.


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Examines from a philosophical perspective descriptive and normative theories of individual decision, with particular focus on the strengths and weaknesses of theories of rational choice, and attempts to incorporate insights from psychology into theories of decision. Explores theoretical developments and a variety of applications. Limited to three attempts.
Recommended Prerequisite: Two previous courses in either Philosophy, Psychology, or Economics.
Schedule Type: Lecture

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