Theory and Decision

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 293-312

First online:

Hidden Assumptions in the Dutch Book Argument

  • C. WaidacherAffiliated withTu Dresden, Institut für Theoretische Physik

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Probabilistic theories of rationality claim that degrees of belief have to satisfy the probability axioms in order to be rational. A standard argument to support this claim is the Dutch Book argument. This paper tries to show that, in spite of its popularity, the Dutch Book argument does not provide a foundation for normative theories of rationality. After a presentation of the argument and some of its criticisms a problem is pointed out: the Dutch Book argument applies only to situations with a specific formal structure. Several attempts to justify the argument for more general situations are considered and rejected. The only way to remedy the shortcoming, it is argued, seems to be the acceptance of a far-reaching and highly implausible empirical hypothesis.

Dutch Book argument degree of belief probability coherence probabilistic theories of rationality