Theory and Decision

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 247-266

First online:

Dutch books and agent rationality

  • Daniel SilberAffiliated withDepartment of Religion and Philosophy, Florida Southern College

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According to the Dutch Book Argument (DBA), if an agent's subjective probabilities fail to satisfy the axioms of the probability calculus and so make the agent vulnerable to a Dutch Book, the agent's subjective probabilities are incoherent and the agent is therefore irrational. Critics of DBA have argued, however, that probabilistic incoherence is compatible with various kinds of rationality – logico-semantic, epistemic, instrumental and prudential. In this paper, I provide an interpretation of DBA on which it is true that probabilistic incoherence entails agent irrationality. Articulating this interpretation requires the specification of some of the connections among the varieties of rationality. Once this is done, it becomes possible to vindicate a modest version of DBA.

Bayesianism Betting behavior Coherence Dutch books Epistemic Instrumental Logico-semantic Probability Rationality Subjective probability