The philosopher's paradox: How to make a coherent decision in the Newcomb Problem



Published 05-12-2019
Carl Hoefer
Christopher Viger Daniel Viger


We offer a novel argument for one-boxing in Newcomb's Problem.  The intentional states of a rational person are psychologically coherent across time, and rational decisions are made against this backdrop. We compare this coherence constraint with a golf swing, which to be effective must include a follow-through after the ball is in flight. Decisions, like golf swings, are extended processes, and their coherence with other psychological states of a player in the Newcomb scenario links her choice with the way she is predicted in a common cause structure. As a result, the standard argument for two-boxing is mistaken. 

How to Cite

Hoefer, C., Viger, C., & Viger, D. (2019). The philosopher’s paradox: How to make a coherent decision in the Newcomb Problem. THEORIA, 34(3), 407–421.
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Newcomb problem, rationality, causal decision theory, evidential decision theory, causation, counterfactuals