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  1. Paul Anand (2008). Rationality and Intransitive Preference. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 22:5-15.
    “Radical The paper provides a survey of arguments for claims that rational agents should have transitive preferences and argues that they are not valid. The presentation is based on a chapter for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Rational and Social Choice.
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  2. Frank Arntzenius & David McCarthy (1997). Self Torture and Group Beneficence. Erkenntnis 47 (1):129-144.
    Moral puzzles about actions which bring about very small or what are said to be imperceptible harms or benefits for each of a large number of people are well known. Less well known is an argument by Warren Quinn that standard theories of rationality can lead an agent to end up torturing himself or herself in a completely foreseeable way, and that this shows that standard theories of rationality need to be revised. We show where Quinn's argument goes wrong, and (...)
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  3. Gustaf Arrhenius & Wlodek Rabinowicz (2005). Millian Superiorities. Utilitas 17 (2):127-146.
    Suppose one sets up a sequence of less and less valuable objects such that each object in the sequence is only marginally worse than its immediate predecessor. Could one in this way arrive at something that is dramatically inferior to the point of departure? It has been claimed that if there is a radical value difference between the objects at each end of the sequence, then at some point there must be a corresponding radical difference between the adjacent elements. The (...)
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  4. Carla Bagnoli (2006). Breaking Ties: The Significance of Choice in Symmetrical Moral Dilemmas. Dialectica 60 (2):157–170.
  5. Ken Binmore & Alex Voorhoeve (2003). Defending Transitivity Against Zeno’s Paradox. Philosophy and Public Affairs 31 (3):272–279.
    This article criticises one of Stuart Rachels' and Larry Temkin's arguments against the transitivity of 'better than'. This argument invokes our intuitions about our preferences of different bundles of pleasurable or painful experiences of varying intensity and duration, which, it is argued, will typically be intransitive. This article defends the transitivity of 'better than' by showing that Rachels and Temkin are mistaken to suppose that preferences satisfying their assumptions must be intransitive. It makes cler where the argument goes wrong by (...)
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  6. John Broome (2009). Reply to Rabinowicz. Philosophical Issues 19 (1):412-417.
  7. William A. Edmundson (2009). Pluralism, Intransitivity, Incoherence. In Mark White (ed.), THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS OF LAW AND ECONOMICS. Cambridge University Press.
    Pluralism is an appealing and now orthodox view of the sources of value. But pluralism has led to well-known difficulties for social-choice theory. Moreover, as Susan Hurley has argued, the difficulties of pluralism go even deeper. In 1954, Kenneth May suggested an intrapersonal analogue to Arrow's Impossibility Theorem. In brief, May showed that an individual's response to a plurality of values will, given certain additional assumptions, lead to intransitive preference orderings. (Daniel Kahneman and others have shown that intransitivity is an (...)
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  8. Johan E. Gustafsson (2013). The Irrelevance of the Diachronic Money-Pump Argument for Acyclicity. Journal of Philosophy 110 (8):460–464.
    The money-pump argument is the standard argument for the acyclicity of rational preferences. The argument purports to show that agents with cyclic preferences are in some possible situations forced to act against their preference. In the usual, diachronic version of the money-pump argument, such agents accept a series of trades that leaves them worse off than before. Two stock objections are (i) that one may get the drift and refuse the trades and (ii) that one may adopt a plan to (...)
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  9. Johan E. Gustafsson (2010). A Money-Pump for Acyclic Intransitive Preferences. Dialectica 64 (2):251–257.
    The standard argument for the claim that rational preferences are transitive is the pragmatic money-pump argument. However, a money-pump only exploits agents with cyclic strict preferences. In order to pump agents who violate transitivity but without a cycle of strict preferences, one needs to somehow induce such a cycle. Methods for inducing cycles of strict preferences from non-cyclic violations of transitivity have been proposed in the literature, based either on offering the agent small monetary transaction premiums or on multi-dimensional preferences. (...)
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  10. Johan E. Gustafsson & Nicolas Espinoza (2010). Conflicting Reasons in the Small-Improvement Argument. Philosophical Quarterly 60 (241):754–763.
    The small-improvement argument is usually considered the most powerful argument against comparability, viz the view that for any two alternatives an agent is rationally required either to prefer one of the alternatives to the other or to be indifferent between them. We argue that while there might be reasons to believe each of the premises in the small-improvement argument, there is a conflict between these reasons. As a result, the reasons do not provide support for believing the conjunction of the (...)
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  11. Toby Handfield (2013). Rational Choice and the Transitivity of Betterness. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1):584-604.
    If A is better than B and B is better than C, then A is better than C, right? Larry Temkin and Stuart Rachels say: No! Betterness is nontransitive, they claim. In this paper, I discuss the central type of argument advanced by Temkin and Rachels for this radical idea, and argue that, given this view very likely has sceptical implications for practical reason, we would do well to identify alternative responses. I propose one such response, which employs the idea (...)
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  12. Theron Pummer (2013). Intuitions About Large Number Cases. Analysis 73 (1):37-46.
    Is there some large number of very mild hangnail pains, each experienced by a separate person, which would be worse than two years of excruciating torture, experienced by a single person? Many people have the intuition that the answer to this question is No. However, a host of philosophers have argued that, because we have no intuitive grasp of very large numbers, we should not trust such intuitions. I argue that there is decent intuitive support for the No answer, which (...)
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  13. Stuart Rachels (2004). Repugnance or Intransitivity: A Repugnant But Forced Choice. In Jesper Ryberg Torbjorn Tannsjo (ed.), The Repugnant Conclusion: Essays on Population Ethics. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
    A set of arguments shows that either the Repugnant Conclusion and its variants are true or the better-than relation isn't transitive. Which is it? This is the most important question in population ethics. The answer will point the way to Parfit's elusive Theory X.
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  14. Stuart Rachels (2001). A Set of Solutions to Parfit's Problems. Noûs 35 (2):214–238.
    In Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit cannot find a theory of well-being that solves the Non-Identity Problem, the Repugnant Conclusion, the Absurd Conclusion, and all forms of the Mere Addition Paradox. I describe a “Quasi-Maximizing” theory that solves them. This theory includes (i) the denial that being better than is transitive and (ii) the “Conflation Principle,” according to which alternative B is hedonically better than alternative C if it would be better for someone to have all the B-experiences. (i) entails (...)
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  15. Stuart Rachels (2001). Intransitivity. In Lawrence C. Becker Mary Becker & Charlotte Becker (eds.), Encyclopedia of Ethics, Volume 2. Routledge.
    According to Transitivity, if A is better than B, and B is better than C, then A is better than C. We may understand “better than” as short for any of the following: “intrinsically better than,” “all things considered better than,” “hedonically better than,” and “better for a person than.” The same puzzle arises on each interpretation. Transitivity seems entrenched in our conceptual scheme, if not analytically true; its failure implies, implausibly, that some possibilities cannot be ranked in terms of (...)
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  16. Stuart Rachels (1998). Counterexamples to the Transitivity of Better Than. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1):71 – 83.
    Ethicists and economists commonly assume that if A is all things considered better than B, and B is all things considered better than C, then A is all things considered better than C. Call this principle Transitivity. Although it has great conceptual, intuitive, and empirical appeal, I argue against it. Larry S. Temkin explains how three types of ethical principle, which cannot be dismissed a priori, threaten Transitivity: (a) principles implying that in some cases different factors are relevant to comparing (...)
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  17. Alex Voorhoeve (2013). Vaulting Intuition: Temkin's Critique of Transitivity. Economics and Philosophy 29 (3):409-425.
    In 'Rethinking the Good', Larry Temkin makes two core claims. First, the goodness of a distribution is sometimes ‘essentially comparative’ – it sometimes depends on which alternative distribution(s) it is compared to. Second, such cases threaten the transitivity of ‘all things considered better than’. I argue that the goodness of a distribution may indeed depend on what other distributions are feasible. But contrary to Temkin, I also argue that transitivity holds even when the goodness of a distribution depends on the (...)
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  18. Alex Voorhoeve (2008). Heuristics and Biases in a Purported Counter-Example to the Acyclicity of 'Better Than'. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 7 (3):285-299.
    Stuart Rachels and Larry Temkin have offered a purported counter-example to the acyclicity of the relationship 'all things considered better than'. This example invokes our intuitive preferences over pairs of alternatives involving a single person's painful experiences of varying intensity and duration. These preferences, Rachels and Temkin claim, are confidently held, entirely reasonable, and cyclical. They conclude that we should drop acyclicity as a requirement of rationality. I argue that, together with the findings of recent research on the way people (...)
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  19. Alex Voorhoeve & Ken Binmore (2006). Transitivity, the Sorites Paradox, and Similarity-Based Decision-Making. Erkenntnis 64 (1):101-114.
    A persistent argument against the transitivity assumption of rational choice theory postulates a repeatable action that generates a significant benefit at the expense of a negligible cost. No matter how many times the action has been taken, it therefore seems reasonable for a decision-maker to take the action one more time. However, matters are so fixed that the costs of taking the action some large number of times outweigh the benefits. In taking the action some large number of times on (...)
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