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Can Free Evidence Be Bad? Value of Information for the Imprecise Probabilist

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


This article considers a puzzling conflict between two positions that are each compelling: (a) it is irrational for an agent to pay to avoid ‘free’ evidence, and (b) rational agents may have imprecise beliefs. An important aspect of responding to this conflict is resolving the question of how rational (imprecise) agents ought to make sequences of decisions—we make explicit what the key alternatives are and defend our own approach. We endorse a resolution of the aforementioned puzzle—we privilege decision theories that merely permit avoiding free evidence over decision theories that make avoiding free information obligatory.

Research Article
Copyright © 2016 by the Philosophy of Science Association

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Katie Steele’s research was supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant AH/J006033/1; Managing Severe Uncertainty project). Seamus Bradley’s research was supported by the Alexander von Humboldt foundation. We would like to thank Richard Bradley and Jim Joyce for very helpful comments on the article and to thank audiences at the LSE Choice Group, the Paris Seminar on Economics and Philosophy, the Formal Epistemology Festival in Konstanz, and the Cambridge Decision Theory Workshop.


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