Oxford Epistemology Group (Tuesday - Week 7, TT22)

epistemology reading group

I defend counterfactual decision theory, which says that you should evaluate an act in terms of which outcomes would likely obtain, were you to perform it. Counterfactual decision theory has traditionally been subsumed under causal decision theory as a particular formulation of the latter. This is a mistake. Counterfactual decision theory is importantly different from, and superior to, causal decision theory. Causation and counterfactuals come apart in three kinds of cases. In cases of overdetermination, an act can cause a good outcome without the latter counterfactually depending on the former. In cases of constitution, an act can constitute a good outcome rather than causing it. In cases of determinism, either the laws or the past counterfactually depend on your act, even though your act cannot cause the laws or the past to be different. In each of these cases, it is counterfactual decision theory which gives the right verdict, and for the right reasons.

A weekly seminar of visiting speakers, work-in-progress talks, and discussion of recent work in epistemology, for faculty and graduate students. Please email Nick Hughes to be added to the mailing list.

Oxford Epistemology Group Convenor: Nick Hughes