Studia Logica

, Volume 73, Issue 2, pp 241–256 | Cite as

Remarks on the Absentminded Driver

  • Wlodek Rabinowicz


Piccione and Rubinstein (1997) present and analyse the sequential decision problem of an “absentminded driver”. The driver's absentmindedness (imperfect recall) leads him to time-inconsistent strategy evaluations. His original evaluation gets replaced by a new one under impact of the information that the circumstances have changed, notwithstanding the fact that this change in circumstances has been expected by him all along. The time inconsistency in strategy evaluation suggests that such an agent might have reason to renege on his adopted strategy. As we shall see, however, this danger is only apparent. There is no serious problem of dynamic inconsistency in this case. My diagnosis of the case under consideration is in many respects similar to the one provided by Aumann, Hart and Perry (1997), but the analysis leading to this diagnosis is not quite the same.

sequential choice dynamic decision-making imperfect recall time-inconsistency strategy choice expected-utility maximization dynamic inconsistency imperfect recall strategies conditional expected utility 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. [1]
    Aumann, R. J., S. Hart, and M. Perry, ‘The Absent-Minded Driver’, Games and Economic Behavior 20:102–16, 1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. [2]
    Asheim, G. B., ‘Individual and Collective Time-Consistency’, The Review of Economic Studies 64:427–43, 1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. [3]
    Levi, I., ‘Rationality, Prediction, and Autonomous Choice’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy supp. 19:339–63, 1989; reprinted in Levi (1997), pp. 19–39.Google Scholar
  4. [4]
    Levi, I., ‘Consequentialism and Sequential Choice’, in M. Bacharach and S. Hurley (eds), Foundations of Decision Theory, Blackwell, pp. 92–122, 1991; republished in a slightly different form in Levi (1997), pp. 70–101.Google Scholar
  5. [5]
    Levi, I., The Covenant of Reason, Cambridge University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  6. [6]
    McClennen, E. F., Rationality and Dynamic Choice, Cambridge University Press, 1990.Google Scholar
  7. [7]
    Piccione, M. and A. Rubinstein, ‘On the Interpretation of Decision Problems with Imperfect Recall’, Games and Economic Behavior 20:3–24, 1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. [8]
    Rabinowicz, W., ‘On Seidenfeld's Criticism of Sophisticated Violations of the Independence Axiom’, Theory and Decision 43:279–92, 1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. [9]
    Rabinowicz, W., ‘Does Deliberation Crowd Out Self-Prediction?’, forthcoming in Erkenntnis, 2000.Google Scholar
  10. [10]
    Schick, F., ‘Self-Knowledge, Uncertainty and Choice’, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 30:232–52, 1979; reprinted in P. Gärdenfors and N.-E. Sahlin (eds), Decision, Probability and Utility, Cambridge University Press, 1988, pp. 270–86.Google Scholar
  11. [11]
    Schick, F., ‘Surprise, Self-Knowledge and Commonality’, Journal of Philosophy 97:440–53, 2000; for an earlier version see B. Hansson, S. Halldén, W. Rabinowicz and N.-E. Sahlin (eds), Spinning Ideas — An Electronic Festschrift for Peter Gärdenfors, 1999, Scholar
  12. [12]
    Spohn, W., ‘Where Luce and Krantz Do Really Generalize Savage's Decision Model’, Erkenntnis 11:113–34, 1977.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. [13]
    Spohn, W., Grundlagen der Entscheidungstheorie, Scriptor Verlag, 1978.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wlodek Rabinowicz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyLund UniversitySweden

Personalised recommendations