Clumps and Pumps: Clumpiness, Resolution and Rational Choice

Utilitas 24 (01):118-125 (2012)
Abstract
It is widely held that the possibility of value-incomparability between alternatives poses a serious threat to comparativism. Some comparativists have proposed to avoid this problem by supplementing the three traditional value relations with a fourth value relation, variously identified as "roughly equal" or "on a par", which is supposed to hold between alternatives that are incomparable by the three traditional value relations. However, in a recent article in this journal, Nien-he Hsieh has proposed that the comparisons thought to require rough equality or parity could instead be understood in terms of the concept of "clumpiness". Against this suggestion, Martin Peterson has argued that the concept of clumpiness allows agents to be exploited in money-pumps, and thus that there is no way of linking clumpiness to rational choice. This would remove the central appeal of the concept. In this note, I show that Peterson’s argument fails to establish that the concept of clumpiness allows agents to be exploited in money-pumps.
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