, Volume 190, Issue 3, pp 491–508

De se belief and rational choice


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-011-0044-0

Cite this article as:
Shaw, J.R. Synthese (2013) 190: 491. doi:10.1007/s11229-011-0044-0


The Sleeping Beauty puzzle has dramatized the divisive question of how de se beliefs should be integrated into formal theories of rational belief change. In this paper, I look ahead to a related question: how should de se beliefs be integrated into formal theories of rational choice? I argue that standard decision theoretic frameworks fail in special cases of de se uncertainty, like Sleeping Beauty. The nature of the failure reveals that sometimes rational choices are determined independently of one’s credences in the kinds of ‘narrow’ de se propositions that Sleepy Beauty has set in relief. Consequently, in addition to pinpointing a failure of standard decision theoretic frameworks, this result casts doubt on a large class of strategies for determining principles for the rationally updating de se beliefs in cases like Sleeping Beauty, and also calls into question the importance of making such a determination at all.


Sleeping beautyDe se updatingDecision theory

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA