On 20 January 2014 16:09, Russell Standish <li...@hpcoders.com.au> wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 01:40:45PM +1300, LizR wrote:
> > One problem, surely, in real life is not knowing what the other person's
> > "utility function" is? So someone may behave apparently irrationally -
> > giving away money - because their utility function involves making
> > themselves feel good, or getting a reward in heaven, or they want to show
> > off how generous they are to impress someone, or something else we don't
> > know. So in practice it isn't even theoretically possible to know if
> > someone else is behaving rationally a lot of the time.
> > Personally, I think anyone without brain damage or mental illness will
> > normally behave rationally according to their own lights. We call it
> > cognitive dissonance when someone is unable to justify their beliefs or
> > actions - they have found some contradiction within themselves - but they
> > usually quickly act to reduce this, by changing their beliefs or doing
> > something different. And it doesn't seem to happen very often, as far as
> > know, so it seems to me that most people are acting rationally according
> > their own utility functions most of the time.
> Fair enough, but someone behaving deterministically can be modelled
> quite effectively given sufficient study.
> > By the way, I don't see how a random decision can be considered
> > by definition". To say something is rational surely means there is a
> > for doing it which "attempts to maximise the person's utility
> > function"
> That's not the definition. A rational agent is someone who always
> chooses the optimal course of action, not that there might be a reason
> for it.
My point was just that the optimal course of action might be to behave
randomly (or unpredictably, if that isn't an option).
Also, "having a reason for an action which optimises your personal utility
function" sounds to me more or less like "choosing the optimal course of
action". I admit I was a bit wordy, but basically it seems to be at least
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