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. (shrink)
What makes democracy valuable? One traditional answer holds that participating in democratic self-government amounts to a kind of autonomy: it enables citizens to be the authors of their political affairs. Many contemporary philosophers, however, are skeptical. We are autonomous, they argue, when important features of our lives are up to us, but in a democracy we merely have a say in a process of collective choice. In this paper, we defend the possibility of democratic autonomy, by advancing a conception of (...) it which is impervious to this objection. At the core of our account is the idea of joint authorship. You are a joint author of something when that thing expresses your joint intentions. Democracy may not make any one of us sole author of our political affairs, but it can make us their joint authors. It is in such joint authorship, we claim, that the intrinsic value of democratic self-government consists. (shrink)
We defend three controversial claims about preference, credence, and choice. First, all agents (not just rational ones) have complete preferences. Second, all agents (again, not just rational ones) have real-valued credences in every proposition in which they are confident to any degree. Third, there is almost always some unique thing we ought to do, want, or believe.
Several contemporary philosophers have argued that democracy earns its moral keep in part by rendering political authority compatible with social or relational equality. In a recent article in this journal, Alexander Motchoulski examines these relational egalitarian defenses of democracy, finds the standard approach wanting, and advances an alternative. The standard approach depends on the claim that inequality of political power constitutes status inequality (the ‘constitutive claim’). Motchoulski rejects this claim on the basis of a theory of social status: once you (...) see what social status is, Motchoulski thinks, the constitutive claim is a non-starter. In its place, Motchoulski suggests that relational egalitarians can and should content themselves with a defense of democratic institutions on the basis of a causal-instrumental link between equality of political power and equality of social relations. In this reply, I advance three main claims. First, relational egalitarians have good reason to hope for a defense of the constitutive claim, since that claim is required if relational equality is to vindicate the intrinsic value of democracy. Second, Motchoulski’s argument against the constitutive claim fails, because it depends on conflating one species of social status for the genus as a whole. Finally, I argue that the constitutive claim is trivially true for one kind of status, namely de facto authority, but, since equality of that kind of status is not intrinsically valuable, this does not amount to a defense of the intrinsic value of democracy. (shrink)