Discussion: A Mistake in Dynamic Coherence Arguments?

  • Brian Skyrms
Part of the Springer Graduate Texts in Philosophy book series (SGTP, volume 1)


Maher (Philos Sci 59:120–141, 1992b) advances an objection to dynamic Dutch-book arguments, partly inspired by the discussion in Levi (The Monist 70:193–211, 1987; in particular by Levi’s case 2, p. 204). Informally, the objection is that the decision maker will “see the Dutch book coming” and consequently refuse to bet, thus escaping the Dutch book. Maher makes this explicit by modeling the decision maker’s choices as a sequential decision problem. On this basis he claims that there is a mistake in dynamic coherence arguments. There is really no formal mistake in classical dynamic coherence arguments, but the discussions in Maher and Levi do suggest interesting ways in which the definition of dynamic coherence might be strengthened. Such a strengthened "sequentialized" notion of dynamic coherence is explored here. It so happens that even on the strengthened standards for a Dutch book, the classic dynamic coherence argument for conditioning still goes through.


Belief Change Decision Node Fair Price Dutch Book Epistemic Situation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank Brad Armendt, Ellery Eells, Isaac Levi, Patrick Maher and an anonymous referee for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this note. I believe that Maher, Levi and I are now in substantial agreement on the issues discussed here, although differences in emphasis and terminology may remain.


  1. Christensen, D. (1991). Clever bookies and coherent beliefs. The Philosophical Review, 100, 229–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. de Finetti, B. ([1937] 1980). Foresight: Its logical laws, its subjective sources, translated in H. E. Kyburg, Jr., & H. Smokler (Eds.), Studies in subjective probability (pp. 93–158). (Originally published as “La Prevision: ses lois logiques, ses sources subjectives”, Annales de l’Institut Henri Poincaré, 7, 1–68.) Huntington: Kreiger.Google Scholar
  3. Hacking, I. (1967). Slightly more realistic personal probability. Philosophy of Science, 34, 311–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Kreps, D., & Wilson, R. (1982). Sequential equilibria. Econometrica, 50, 863–894.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Kyburg, H. (1978). Subjective probability: Criticisms, reflections and problems. The Journal of Philosophical Logic, 7, 157–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Levi, I. (1987). The demons of decision. The Monist, 70, 193–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Levi, I. (1991). Consequentialism and sequential choice. In M. Bacharach & S. Hurley (Eds.), Foundations of decision theory (pp. 92–146). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  8. Maher, P. (1992a). Betting on theories. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Maher, P. (1992b). Diachronic rationality. Philosophy of Science, 59, 120–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Selten, R. (1975). Reexamination of the perfectness concept of equilibrium in extensive form games. International Journal of Game Theory, 4, 25–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Skyrms, B. (1987). Dynamic coherence and probability kinematics. Philosophy of Science, 54, 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Skyrms, B. (1990). The dynamics of rational deliberation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Teller, P. (1973). Conditionalization and observation. Synthese, 26, 218–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. van Fraassen, B. (1984). Belief and the will. Journal of Philosophy, 81, 235–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Skyrms
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

Personalised recommendations