The Case for Comparability

Noûs 57 (2):414-453 (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

We argue that all comparative expressions in natural language obey a principle that we call Comparability: if x and y are at least as F as themselves, then either x is at least as F as y or y is at least as F as x. This principle has been widely rejected among philosophers, especially by ethicists, and its falsity has been claimed to have important normative implications. We argue that Comparability is needed to explain the goodness of several patterns of inference that seem manifestly valid, that the purported failures of Comparability would have absurd consequences, and that the influential arguments against Comparability are less compelling than they may have initially seemed.

Analytics

Added to PP
2020-06-02

Downloads
3,186 (#2,287)

6 months
420 (#4,123)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Cian Dorr
New York University
Jake Nebel
Princeton University
Jake Zuehl
New York University

Citations of this work

Degrees of Consciousness.Andrew Y. Lee - 2023 - Noûs 57 (3):553-575.
Totalism without Repugnance.Jacob M. Nebel - 2022 - In Jeff McMahan, Tim Campbell, James Goodrich & Ketan Ramakrishnan (eds.), Ethics and Existence: The Legacy of Derek Parfit. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 200-231.
The Sum of Well-Being.Jacob M. Nebel - 2023 - Mind 132 (528):1074–1104.

View all 16 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Convention: A Philosophical Study.David Kellogg Lewis - 1969 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
The Foundations of Statistics.Leonard J. Savage - 1954 - Wiley Publications in Statistics.
The Philosophy of Philosophy.Timothy Williamson - 2007 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
The idea of justice.Amartya Sen - 2009 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

View all 160 references / Add more references