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Is Incomparability A Problem For Anyone?




The incomparability of alternatives is thought to pose a problem for justified choice, particularly for proponents of comparativism – the view that comparative facts about alternatives determine what one rationally ought to choose. As a solution, it has been argued that alternatives judged incomparable by one of the three standard comparative relations, “better than,” “worse than,” and “equally good,” are comparable by some fourth relation, such as “roughly equal” or “on a par.” This solution, however, comes at what many would regard as too high a cost – namely, rejection of the transitivity of the relation “at least as good as.” In this paper, I argue that proponents of comparativism need not incur this cost. I defend the possibility of justified choice between incomparable alternatives on grounds that comparativists can accept. The possibility of incomparability has been met with resistance, in part because of the intuitive appeal of comparativism. By defending the possibility of justified choice between incomparable alternatives on grounds that comparativists can accept, this paper supports further inquiry into the subject of incomparability.

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  • Hsieh, Nien-Hê, 2007. "Is Incomparability A Problem For Anyone?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(01), pages 65-80, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:ecnphi:v:23:y:2007:i:01:p:65-80_00

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    2. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1982. "Risk Perception in Psychology and Economics," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(1), pages 1-9, January.
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