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The Oxford Handbook of Rationality$
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Alfred R. Mele and Piers Rawling

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195145397

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195145399.001.0001

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DECISION THEORY AND MORALITY

DECISION THEORY AND MORALITY

Chapter:
(p.156) chapter 9 DECISION THEORY AND MORALITY
Source:
The Oxford Handbook of Rationality
Author(s):

James Dreier (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195145399.003.0009

Dreier shows how the formal apparatus of decision theory is connected to some abstract issues in moral theory. He begins by explaining how to think about utility and the advice that decision theory gives us, in particular, decision theory does not assume or insist that all rational agents act in their own self-interest. Next he examines decision theory’s contributions to social contract theory, with emphasis on David Gauthier’s rationalist contractualism. Dreier’s third section considers a reinterpretation of the formal theory that decision theorists use: utility might represent goodness rather than preference. His last section discusses Harsanyi’s Theorem.

Keywords:   contractualism, decision theory, goodness, Harsanyi's Theorem, moral theory, preference, self-interest, social contract, utility

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