On the Interpretation of Decision Theory

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Abstract

This paper explores the contrast between mentalistic and behaviouristic interpretations of decision theory. The former regards credences and utilities as psychologically real, while the latter regards them as mere representations of an agent's preferences. Philosophers typically adopt the former interpretation, economists the latter. It is argued that the mentalistic interpretation is preferable if our aim is to use decision theory for descriptive purposes, but if our aim is normative then the behaviouristic interpretation cannot be dispensed with.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-433
Number of pages25
JournalEconomics and Philosophy
Volume32
Issue number3
Early online date12 Aug 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016

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