Escaping the Cycle


I present a decision problem---called 'Improvement Cycle'---in which orthodox causal decision theory appears to violate weak versions of the independence of irrelevant alternatives (IIA) and normal-form extensive-form equivalence (NEE). I show that these violations lead to exploitable behavior and long-run poverty. These consequences appear damning, but I urge caution. Causalists can dispute the charge that they violate IIA and NEE in this case by carefully specifying when two options in different decision problems are similar enough to be counted as the same.