Alexandru Marcoci


Alexandru Marcoci

I am a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a core faculty member in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program. Before joining UNC, I was a Fellow in Government at the London School of Economics. I am currently working on bathroom bills, measuring quality of reasoning in intelligence reports and ideological polarization. I teach courses on the ethics of war and defense, theories of justice, evidence-based policy, philosophy of science, and logic. I also collaborate with the SWARM project and I am a Research Associate in the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science at the London School of Economics.


Alexandru Marcoci. "On a dilemma of redistribution." Forthcoming in Dialectica Abstract

McKenzie Alexander presents a dilemma for a social planner who wants to correct the unfair distribution of an indivisible good between two equally worthy individuals or groups: either she guarantees a fair outcome, or she follows a fair procedure (but not both). In this paper I show that this dilemma only holds if the social planner can redistribute the good in question at most once. To wit, the bias of the initial distribution always washes out when we allow for sufficiently many redistributions.

Alexandru Marcoci. "Monty Hall saves Dr. Evil: On Elga's restricted principle of indifference." Forthcoming in Erkenntnis Abstract

In this paper I show that Elga's argument for a restricted principle of indifference for self-locating belief relies on the kind of mistaken reasoning that recommends the 'staying' strategy in the Monty Hall problem.

Alexandru Marcoci and James Nguyen. "Objectivity, Ambiguity and Theory Choice." Forthcoming in Erkenntnis Abstract

Kuhn argued that scientific theory choice is, in some sense, a rational matter, but one that is not fully determined by shared objective scientific virtues like accuracy, simplicity, and scope. Okasha imports Arrow's impossibility theorem into the context of theory choice to show that rather than not fully determining theory choice, these virtues cannot determine it at all. If Okasha is right, then there is no function (satisfying certain desirable conditions) from 'preference' rankings supplied by scientific virtues over competing theories (or models, or hypotheses) to a single all-things-considered ranking. This threatens the rationality of science. In this paper we show that if Kuhn's claims about the role that subjective elements play in theory choice are taken seriously, then the threat dissolves.

Alexandru Marcoci, Ans Vercammen and Mark Burgman. "ODNI as an analytic ombudsman: Is Intelligence Community Directive 203 up to the task?" Intelligence and National Security 34, no. 2 (2019): 205-224 Abstract

In the wake of 9/11 and the war in Iraq, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence adopted Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 203 – a list of analytic tradecraft standards – and appointed an ombudsman charged with monitoring their implementation. In this paper, we identify three assumptions behind ICD203: (1) tradecraft standards can be employed consistently; (2) tradecraft standards sufficiently capture the key elements of good reasoning; and (3) good reasoning leads to more accurate judgments. We then report on two controlled experiments that uncover operational constraints in the reliable application of the ICD203 criteria for the assessment of intelligence products.

Alexandru Marcoci, Mark Burgman, Ariel Kruger, Elizabeth Silver, Marissa McBride, Felix Singleton Thorn, Hannah Fraser, Bonnie Wintle, Fiona Fidler and Ans Vercammen. "Better together: Reliable application of the post-9/11 and post-Iraq US intelligence tradecraft standards requires collective analysis." Frontiers in Psychology 9 (2019): 2634 Abstract

Background. The events of 9/11 and the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction precipitated fundamental changes within the US Intelligence Community. As part of the reform, analytic tradecraft standards were revised and codified into a policy document – Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 203 – and an analytic ombudsman was appointed in the newly created Office for the Director of National Intelligence to ensure compliance across the intelligence community. In this paper we investigate the untested assumption that the ICD203 criteria can facilitate reliable evaluations of analytic products.
Method. Fifteen independent raters used a rubric based on the ICD203 criteria to assess the quality of reasoning of 64 analytical reports generated in response to hypothetical intelligence problems. We calculated the intra-class correlation coefficients for single and group-aggregated assessments.
Results. Despite general training and rater calibration, the reliability of individual assessments was poor. However, aggregate ratings showed good to excellent reliability.
Conclusions. Given that real problems will be more difficult and complex than our hypothetical case studies, we advise that groups of at least three raters are required to obtain reliable quality control procedures for intelligence products. Our study sets limits on assessment reliability and provides a basis for further evaluation of the predictive validity of intelligence reports generated in compliance with the tradecraft standards.

Alexandru Marcoci and James Nguyen. Scientific rationality by degrees. In M. Massimi, J.W. Romeijn, and G. Schurz (Eds.), EPSA15 Selected Papers. European Studies in Philosophy of Science, Vol. 5 (Cham: Springer, 2017), 321-333 Abstract

In a recent paper, Samir Okasha imports Arrow's impossibility theorem into the context of theory choice. He shows that there is no function (satisfying certain desirable conditions) from profiles of preference rankings over competing theories, models or hypotheses provided by scientific virtues to a single all-things-considered ranking. This is a prima facie threat to the rationality of theory choice. In this paper we show this threat relies on an all-or-nothing understanding of scientific rationality and articulate instead a notion of rationality by degrees. The move from all-or-nothing rationality to rationality by degrees will allow us to argue that theory choice can be rational enough.

Alexandru Marcoci. "Quitting Certainties: A Bayesian Framework Modeling Degrees of Belief, Michael G. Titelbaum. Oxford University Press, 2013, Xii 345 Pages." Economics and Philosophy 31, no. 1 (2015): 194–200

Selected presentations

An efficiency argument for gender-neutral restrooms (with Luc Bovens)Venues

Second Annual PPE Society Meeting, New Orleans (March 15-17, 2018)

PPE Conference, LSE (December 7, 2017)

Formal Ethics 2017, University of York (June 21-23, 2017)

Scientific consensus without inconsistency (with James Nguyen)Venues

2018 APA Central Division Meeting, Chicago (February 21-24, 2018, presented by JN)

BSPS 2017 Annual Conference, Edinburgh (July 13-14, 2017)

A dynamic model of ideological polarization (with Diana-Elena Popescu)Venues

Festival of Ideas 3, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona (April 4-6, 2018)

On Elga's restricted principle of indifference Venues

Theory choice vs. social choice (with James Nguyen)Venues


May 1, 2018. How do you win an argument? An LSE IQ podcast episode for which I was interviewed. Lead

So, what makes a good argument and, more importantly, what's the best way to argue effectively? In this episode, producers James Rattee, Nathalie Abbott and Sue Windebank consider how to debate with conspiracy theorists, see how US intelligence agencies are building tools to formulate better arguments, and ask whether certain people – and points of view – are too dangerous to confront. This episode features the following LSE academics: Dr Owen Griffiths, LSE Department of Philosophy, Dr Bryan Roberts, LSE Department of Philosophy, Dr Bart Cammaerts, LSE Department of Media and Communications, Professor Martin Bauer, LSE Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science and Dr Alexandru Marcoci, LSE Department of Government.

Apr. 17, 2018. Luc Bovens and Alexandru Marcoci. Gender-neutral restrooms require new (choice) architecture. Behavioural Public Policy Blog Lead

"What’s not to love about gender-neutral restrooms?" ask Bovens and Marcoci. Their spread could only come about trough a sensitive mix of good design and nudges; working on social norms and behaviours. Some discomforts may, however, prove to be beyond nudging, and an incremental, learning approach is probably required.

Dec. 1, 2017. Luc Bovens and Alexandru Marcoci. To those who oppose gender-neutral toilets: they’re better for everybody. The Guardian Lead

Bovens and Marcoci's research into the economics of these facilities shows they cut waiting for women, and address the concerns of trans and disabled people.


Department of Philosophy
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Caldwell Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA

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