Counterexamples to the transitivity of better than

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1):71 – 83 (1998)
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 A to C than to comparing A to B or B to C; (b) principles of limited scope; (c) principles implying that morally relevant differences in degree can amount to differences in kind. My counterexamples employ a principle of type (c): pleasures and pains enormously different in intensity differ in kind. Temkin has also endorsed this type of counterexample, using arguments based on earlier drafts of this paper.
Keywords Transitivity  Intransitivity  Derek Parfit  The Second Paradox  Pain  The Mere Addition Paradox  The Repugnant Conclusion  Larry Temkin
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DOI 10.1080/00048409812348201
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Wlodek Rabinowicz (2012). Value Relations Revisited. Economics and Philosophy 28 (2):133-164.
Stuart Rachels (2004). Six Theses About Pleasure. Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):247-267.
Toby Handfield (2013). Rational Choice and the Transitivity of Betterness. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1):584-604.

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