“Questions in Action” By Daniel Hoek (NYU, Philosophy)
Date: Tuesday, 12 February, 2019
Abstract: Choices confront agents with questions. Lost in a dark forest and coming to a fork in the road, you wonder Which path will get me out of here? The choice of how many eggs to buy at the supermarket raises the question How many eggs go into a spaghetti carbonara for four? And so on: whenever you make a choice, you face a question. In this talk, I outline a systematic account of the role that questions play in decision-making, in the form of a new, inquisitive decision theory. Inquisitive decision theory can account for many ordinary patterns of behaviour that classical decision theory does not capture. In particular, we can account for the distinction between recognition and recall, and for belief states that are not closed under deduction. The theory builds on a converging set of insights about the role of questions from epistemology and the philosophy of language, semantics, pragmatics, cognitive science, decision theory and the metaphysics of propositions.
About the speaker: Daniel Hoek studied philosophy at Oxford and New York University, and is a regular visitor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. His core research interests are in the philosophy of language, decision theory, and the philosophy of mathematics. Last year he published his theory of conversational exculpature in The Philosophical Review (conversational exculpature is a linguistic mechanism that is, roughly speaking, the reverse of conversational implicature). In his free time he likes to translate Dutch rhymes into English, and he has the same initials as David Hume.