140: Newcomb’s paradox and the tragedy of rationality (Kenny Easwaran)

August 9, 2015

This episode of Rationally Speaking features philosopher Kenny Easwaran, who delves into the notorious “Newcomb’s Paradox” — the puzzle about which it was once said, “To almost everyone it is perfectly clear and obvious what should be done. The difficulty is that these people seem to divide almost evenly on the problem, with large numbers thinking that the opposing half is just being silly.” Kenny and Julia explore how Newcomb’s Paradox is related to other puzzles in decision theory, like the Prisoners’ Dilemma; what its implications are for free will; and what Kenny calls the “deep tragedy” at the heart of rationality.

Transcript (PDF)