Philosophical Studies 176 (6):1621-1638 (2019)

Chrisoula Andreou
University of Utah
It is commonly held that rational preferences must be acyclic. There have, however, been cases that have been put forward as counterexamples to this view. This paper focuses on the following question: If the counterexamples are compelling and rational preferences can be cyclic, what should we conclude about the presumed acyclicity of the “better than” relation? Building on some revisionary suggestions concerning acyclicity and betterness, I make a case for hanging on to the presumption that “better than” is acyclic even if “is rationally preferred to” is not. As I explain, the divergence my view makes room for does not threaten to make “better than” judgments less relevant to choice than judgments about rational preference. To the contrary, it makes them more relevant. Toward the end of the paper, I extend my results to the relation “is morally better than” in light of the possibility that there might be moral preferability cycles.
Keywords Better than  Cyclic preferences  Intransitive relations  Morally better  Puzzle of the self-torturer  Rational preferences  Temkin
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-018-1082-y
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Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
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Do I Make a Difference?Shelly Kagan - 2011 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 39 (2):105-141.

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