Logic, Probability, and Games

The seminar is concerned with applying formal methods to fundamental issues, with an emphasis on probabilistic reasoning, decision theory and games. In this context “logic” is broadly interpreted as covering applications that involve formal representations. The topics of interest have been researched within a very broad spectrum of different disciplines, including philosophy, statistics, economics, and computer science. The seminar is intended to bring together scholars from different fields of research so as to illuminate problems of common interest from different perspectives. Throughout each academic year, meetings are regularly presented by the members of the seminar and distinguished guest speakers. In the spring of 2014, the seminar also became an integral part of the University Seminars at Columbia University .

Co-Chairs:
Professor Haim Gaifman (Columbia)
hg17@columbia.edu

Professor Rohit Parikh (CUNY)
rparikh@gc.cuny.edu

Rapporteur:
Yang Liu (Columbia)
yl2435@columbia.edu

2013-2014

Spring 2014 Meetings


 

May, 2014

The Humean Thesis on Belief
Hannes Leitgeb (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
4:15 pm, May 2nd, 2014
716 Philosophy Hall, Columbia University

Abstract.  I am going to make precise, and assess, the following thesis on (all-or-nothing) belief and degrees of belief: It is rational to believe a proposition just in case it is rational to have a stably high degree of belief in it.I will start with some historical remarks, which are going to motivate calling this postulate the “Humean thesis on belief”. Once the thesis has been formulated in formal terms, it is possible to derive conclusions from it. Three of its consequences I will highlight in particular: doxastic logic; an instance of what is sometimes called the Lockean thesis on belief; and a simple qualitative decision theory.

 

April, 2014

Causal Decision Theory and Intrapersonal Nash Equilibria
Arif Ahmed (University of Cambridge)
4:15 pm, April 4th, 2014
716 Philosophy Hall, Columbia University

Abstract.  Most philosophers today prefer ‘Causal Decision Theory’ to Bayesian or other non-Causal Decision Theories. What explains this is the fact that in certain Newcomb-like cases, only Causal theories recommend an option on which you would have done better, whatever the state of the world had been. But if so, there are cases of sequential choice in which the same difficulty arises for Causal Decision Theory. Worse: under further light assumptions the Causal Theory faces a money pump in these cases. It may be illuminating to consider rational sequential choice as an intrapersonal game between one’s stages, and if time permits I will do this. In that light the difficulty for Causal Decision Theory appears to be that it allows, but its non-causal rivals do not allow, for Nash equilibria in such games that are Pareto inefficient.