Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Theories of Decisions


A group of us were sitting around the other day, when I brought up the idea of trying to model what it feels like when you make a decision. We came up with the following :

At the bottom level sits the real world. As humans, we experience it in certain ways which give rise to three areas that influence our thinking. These are preconceptions, faith and knowledge. Preconceptions are not available to us consciously - they are not facts or concepts or named things, but nonetheless are something in our makeup which affects our decisions. An example would be the instinctive fear response. Knowledge is made up of beliefs we can express which have been subjected to some kind of external confidence measure, such as the scientific method. An example would be that 1 + 1 = 2, or that things fall when you drop them. Faith is also made up of beliefs, but they are things we have confidence in without having prooved them to ourselves by an objective measure. Into this category falls not only religious faith, but also recieved beliefs, such as our common understanding of the law.

Things that we aren't sure of fall into the knowledge category - they are expressed, and we know our confidence in them.

Making an actual decision is a dialectic between the Intuition and some kind of formal system, in the loosest sense of the word. You might want to call this rationality, but we didn't.

The intuition is informed by our preconceptions, our faith and our knowledge. The formal system is informed by our faith and our knowledge. We felt that the imbalance was accurate - that often we are unable to express why we feel intuitively strongly about some particular issue even though we cannot necessarily voice our concerns.



Blogger alex said...

It might be interesting to examine the level to which the three areas are contingent upon each other, apart from their synthesis in the act of decision. For example, to what extent our knowledge affects and is affected by our preconceptions.


1/26/2005 10:11:00 AM  

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