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date: 28 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Philosophy’s current interest in decision theory represents aconvergence of two very different lines of thought, one concerned with the question of how one ought to act, and the other concerned with the question of what action consists in and what it reveals about the actor’s mental states. As a result, the theory has come to have two different uses in philosophy, which we might call the normative use and the interpretive use. It also has a related use that is largely within the domain of psychology, the descriptive use. This essay examines the mathematical core of decision theory and its interpretation; the historical development of decision theory and its uses; the relationship between the norm of decision theory and the notion of rationality; and the interdependence of the uses of decision theory.

Keywords: decision theory, utility, preference, norm, consistency, representation theorem, normative decision theory, interpretive decision theory, descriptive decision theory

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