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The more you think about it, the more baffling Newcomb's Problem becomes. To most people, at first it is obvious which solution is correct (not that they agree on which one), but their confidence can be eroded easily. Only a puzzled few are torn between the two right from the start, and for years so was I. But at last, thanks to a certain metaargument, one solution came to seem obvious to me. And yet, imagining myself actually faced with Newcomb's choice, I started to worry that I might experience just enough last-minute ambivalence to unsettle my confidence in that argument. Fortunately, I have found a strategy to ensure making the right choice when the chips are down.
Not only is Newcomb's Problem puzzling in its own right, it is philosophically significant. The appeal of both solutions reflects a conflict between two plausible conceptions of rational choice. In making a decision, should one consider all of its probabilistic consequences or only its causal consequences? Each conception has its supporters, but some philosophers find them both defensible and see no hope of resolving the conflict. I think the conflict can be resolved, at least in the context of Newcomb's Problem, by properly assessing the relevant counterfactual conditionals.
Here is an old question in the philosophy of perception: here I am, looking at the pen on my desk. Presumably I really am seeing this pen. Even so, I could be having an experience just like the one I am having without anything being there. So how can the experience I am having really involve direct awareness of the pen? It seems as though the presence of the pen is inessential to the way the experience is.
Traditionally, this question was used to raise skeptical worries about perceptual experience and to motivate the sense-data thesis, according to which perceptual experiences, even veridical ones, are directly of mental or private objects and only indirectly of their physical objects. I addressed these epistemological and ontological problems in my dissertation several decades ago, but it is not yet time for me to take them up again. What interests me here is what might be called the semantic problem of perceptual experience. It concerns the fact that experiences are directed at objects. This is what John Searle and many other philosophers call the Intentionality of experience.
Here I am looking at this pen. What makes it the case that it is this pen that I am experiencing, that it is the one that appears to me of such-and-such shape, size, and color? The problem here is that there is nothing in the character of my visual experience to distinguish this pen from any other pen that would look just like it.
Ainslie uses his hyperbolic discount model to explain a dazzling array of puzzling motivational phenomena. In so doing, he assumes that the motivational force of a given option at a given time is directly proportional to its discount-adjusted reward as assessed at that time. He overlooks three other factors which, independently of the perceived reward, can affect motivational force.
We estimated the impact of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) infection on the outcomes of patients with leukemia in a case-control study. Compared with their matched controls (n = 45), cases (n = 23) had 22% greater total charges and shorter survival (P= .04). These findings substantiate the need for aggressive interventions to prevent VRE transmission.
Mele views self-deception as belief sustained by
motivationally biased treatment of evidence. This view overlooks
something essential, for it does not reckon with the fact that in
self-deception the truth is dangerously close at hand and must be
repeatedly suppressed. Self-deception is not so much a matter of
what one positively believes as what one manages not to think.