Parity, incomparability and rationally justified choice

Philosophical Studies 146 (1):75 - 92 (2009)

Abstract
This article discusses the possibility of a rationally justified choice between two options neither of which is better than the other while they are not equally good either (‘3NT’). Joseph Raz regards such options as incomparable and argues that reason cannot guide the choice between them. Ruth Chang, by contrast, tries to show that many cases of putative incomparability are instead cases of parity—a fourth value relation of comparability, in addition to the three standard value relations ‘better than’, ‘worse than’ and ‘equally good as’. It follows, she argues, that many choice situations in which rationally justified choice seems precluded are in fact situations within the reach of practical reason. This article has three aims: (1) it challenges Chang’s argument for the possibility of parity; (2) it demonstrates that, even if parity would exist, its problematic implications for practical reason would not differ from those of Raz’s incomparability; (3) it discusses the underlying cause of hard cases of comparison: the fact that none of the three standard value relations applies (‘3NT’). It will be shown that the problematic implications for the rational justification of the choice are due to 3NT itself, irrespective of whether 3NT is explained as incomparability or parity.
Keywords Parity  Incomparability  Rationally justified choice
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-008-9245-x
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References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Mortal Questions.Thomas Nagel - 1979 - Cambridge University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.

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Citations of this work BETA

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