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Inference to the best plan: A coherence theory of decision.

Thagard, P. and Millgram, E. (1997) Inference to the best plan: A coherence theory of decision. [Book Chapter]

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Abstract

In their introduction to this volume, Ram and Leake usefully distinguish between task goals and learning goals. Task goals are desired results or states in an external world, while learning goals are desired mental states that a learner seeks to acquire as part of the accomplishment of task goals. We agree with the fundamental claim that learning is an active and strategic process that takes place in the context of tasks and goals (see also Holland, Holyoak, Nisbett, and Thagard, 1986). But there are important questions about the nature of goals that have rarely been addressed. First, how can a cognitive system deal with incompatible task goals? Someone may want both to get lots of research done and to relax and have fun with his or her friends. Learning how to accomplish both these tasks will take place in the context of goals that cannot be fully realized together. Second, how are goals chosen in the first place and why are some goals judged to be more important than others? People do not simply come equipped with goals and priorities: we sometimes have to learn what is important to us by adjusting the importance of goals in the context of other compatible and incompatible goals. This paper presents a theory and a computational model of how goals can be adopted or rejected in the context of decision making. In contrast to classical decision theory, it views decision making as a process not only of choosing actions but also of evaluating goals. Our theory can therefore be construed as concerned with the goal-directed learning of goals.

Item Type:Book Chapter
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Computer Science > Artificial Intelligence
Philosophy > Philosophy of Science
ID Code:670
Deposited By:Thagard, Paul
Deposited On:06 Jun 1998
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54

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