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Talk "Newcomb's Paradox and Its Intuitively Adequate Solution in Causal Knowledge Patterns" @ Uni Melbourne (7 Oct 2011)

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On 7 Oct 2011 Roland Poellinger will give a talk at the University of Melbourne, titled "Newcomb's Paradox and Its Intuitively Adequate Solution in Causal Knowledge Patterns". Abstract: Referring back to the physicist William NEWCOMB, Robert NOZICK (1969) elaborates on – as he calls it – Newcomb’s problem, a decision-theoretic dilemma in which two principles of rational choice seemingly conflict each other, at least in numerous renditions in the vast literature on this topic: Dominance and the principle of maximum expected utility recommend different strategies in the plot of the game situation. While evidential decision theory (EDT) seems to be split over which principle to apply and how to interpret the principles in the first place, causal decision theory (CDT) seems to go for the solution recommended by dominance (“two-boxing”).
In this talk I will firstly present the CDT proposal by Wolfgang SPOHN (cf. “Reversing 30 Years of Discussion: Why Causal Decision Theorists Should One-Box”) who opts for “one-boxing” by employing reflexive decision graphs. The second part of my discussion – as a reply to SPOHN – will draw on the framework of causal knowledge patterns, i.e., Bayes net causal models (cf. PEARL 1995 and 2000/2009) augmented by non-causal knowledge (epistemic contours), to finally arrive at “one-boxing” – more intuitively and more closely to what actually is in NOZICK’s story.