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Richness and rationality: causal decision theory and the WAR argument

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Abstract Causal decision theory (CDT) is one of our most prominent theories of rational choice and the “why ain’cha rich?” argument (WAR) is one of the most prominent objections to this theory. According to WAR, CDT is not an adequate theory of rational choice because it leads agents to make decisions that foreseeably leave them less well off than agents that decide in some other manner. Some philosophers take WAR to decisively undermine CDT. On the other hand, others (including David Lewis and Terry Horgan) take WAR to fail to resolve the debate over CDT’s adequacy. In this paper, I will defend this second view: WAR does not resolve the debate at hand but instead leads to deadlock. Then, in the second half of this paper, I will show that this deadlock is not broken by a recent variant on WAR due to Caspar Hare and Brian Hedden. Not only does this result have implications for the debate over CDT’s adequacy but this discussion also casts light on the broader success/rationality link.



Causal decision theory, Why ain'cha rich, Rationality, Success

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC