Join Illinois State University’s Department on Psychology in Stevenson Hall, Room 132 on Friday, November 9, 2018, at 11 a.m. as Zhanglv Li gives his talk “Solving Newcomb’s Problem with Probability Structure”.

Zhanglv Li is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at Southwest University, China. He is also the director of Philosophical Logic & Logic of Philosophy Office in ILI (Institute of Logic and Intelligence) at Southwest University. Currently, he is visiting the Department of Philosophy at Illinois State. He graduated as a Ph.D. from the Nankai University in 2012, the Ph.D. program was a joint program with Columbia University in the city of New York. His research interests are Philosophical Logic, Logic of Philosophy, Inductive Logic, Decision Theory, etc. In particular, he focuses on topics in Bayesian Decision Theory.

Newcomb’s problem is a choice dilemma which violates the classical decision principles fiercely. For a justification in Bayesian decision theory, some people even argue that it is not a legitimate rational choice problem. Bayesian networks can interpret the causal relations between the choice of a decision maker and the prediction of predictor intuitively.

After analyzing the choice situation of Newcomb’s problem based on probability theory and Bayesian networks, we find that the fundamental issue for the paradox is that it cannot specify the probability structure i.e., the distribution of joint probability so that we can have two types of understanding for the choice situation. Moreover, the assumptions underlying the two probability structures are incompatible. Therefore, one of the proper solutions for Newcomb’s problem is to express it just as one probability structure by unambiguous language.