Transitivity and vagueness

Economics and Philosophy 21 (1):109-131 (2005)
Axiomatic utility theory plays a foundational role in some accounts of normative principles. In this context, it is sometimes argued that transitivity of “better than” is a logical truth. Larry Temkin and Stuart Rachels use various examples to argue that “better than” is non–transitive, and that transitivity is not a logical truth. These examples typically involve some sort of “discontinuity.” In his discussion of one of these examples, John Broome suggests that we should reject the claim which involves “discontinuity.” We can, I suggest, make sense of the examples which Temkin uses while sacrificing neither transitivity nor “discontinuity.” This response to Temkin's examples involves developing and modifying James Griffin's account of “discontinuity.” If the account of “discontinuity” seems implausible, that is because of a failure to allow for vagueness. A similar argument can be made in the context of the well-known “repugnant conclusion.” Footnotes1 This paper emerged from a discussion in one of John Broome's seminars. I am very grateful to John Broome, Erik Carlson, James Griffin, Wlodek Rabinowicz, Stuart Rachels, and Larry Temkin for allowing me to read various forthcoming manuscripts which are mentioned in the paper. I am also extremely grateful to Gustaf Arrhenius, Walter Bossert, Luc Bovens, John Broome, Richard Cookson, Robin Cubitt, James Griffin, Graham Loomes, Ben McQuillin, Shepley Orr, Wlodek Rabinowicz, Stuart Rachels, Bob Sugden, and two anonymous referees for comments on earlier versions. Any errors or omissions are mine.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S0266267104000410
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,974
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Wlodek Rabinowicz (2012). Value Relations Revisited. Economics and Philosophy 28 (2):133-164.
Toby Handfield (2013). Rational Choice and the Transitivity of Betterness. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1):584-604.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

33 ( #96,685 of 1,725,822 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #348,716 of 1,725,822 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.