Peter Baumann
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
According to a widely held view, rationality demands that the preferences of a person be transitive. The transitivity assumption is an axiom in standard theories of rational choice. It is also prima facie very plausible. I argue here that transitivity is not a necessary condition of rationality; it is a constraint only in some cases. The argument presented here is based on the non-linearity of differential utility functions. This paper has four parts. First, I present an argument against the transitivity assumption (I, II). Second, I discuss some objections; this will also bring out some features of the view defended here, like the essentially comparative nature of choice (III). Then, I discuss certain proposals that promise to avoid my conclusion (IV). Finally, I go into some implications concerning the nature of rational decision making (V). To accept some intransitivities as rational does not make our life easier; it can even lead to hard choices. However, it does not lead to skepticism about rational choice.
Keywords rationality  preferences  transitivity  rational choice  non-linearity  non-transitivity
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DOI 10.1177/1470594x211072271
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Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Morals by Agreement.David P. Gauthier - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.

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