A Simpler, More Compelling Money Pump with Foresight

Johan Gustafsson, Wlodek Rabinowicz

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One might think that money pumps directed at agents with cyclic preferences can be avoided by foresight. This view was challenged two decades ago by the discovery of a money pump with foresight, which works against agents who use backward induction. But backward induction implausibly assumes that the agent would act rationally and retain her trust in her future rationality even at choice nodes that could only be reached if she were to act irrationally. This worry, however, does not apply to BI-terminating decision problems, where at each choice node backward induction prescribes a move that terminates further action. For BI-terminating decision problems, it is enough to assume that rationality and trust in rationality are retained at choice nodes reachable by rational moves. The old money pump with foresight was not BI-terminating. In this paper, we present a new money pump with foresight-one that is both BI-terminating and considerably simpler.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-589
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Philosophy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

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  • money pumps
  • decision theory
  • cyclic preferences
  • dynamic choice
  • backward induction
  • transitivity

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