Determinism, Counterfactuals, and Decision

Alexander Sandgren, Timothy Luke Williamson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Rational agents face choices, even when taking seriously the possibility of determinism. Rational agents also follow the advice of Causal Decision Theory (CDT). Although many take these claims to be well-motivated, there is growing pressure to reject one of them, as CDT seems to go badly wrong in some deterministic cases. We argue that deterministic cases do not undermine a counterfactual model of rational deliberation, which is characteristic of CDT. Rather, they force us to distinguish between counterfactuals that are relevant and ones that are irrelevant for the purposes of deliberation. We incorporate this distinction into decision theory to develop ‘Selective Causal Decision Theory’, which delivers the correct recommendations in deterministic cases while respecting the key motivations behind CDT.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)286-302
    Number of pages17
    JournalAustralasian Journal of Philosophy
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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