Value Incomparability and Indeterminacy

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (1):57-70 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Two competing accounts of value incomparability have been put forward in the recent literature. According to the standard account, developed most famously by Joseph Raz, ‘incomparability’ means determinate failure of the three classic value relations ( better than , worse than , and equally good ): two value-bearers are incomparable with respect to a value V if and only if (i) it is false that x is better than y with respect to V , (ii) it is false that x is worse than y with respect to V and (iii) it is false that x and y are equally good with respect to V . Most philosophers have followed Raz in adopting this account of incomparability. Recently, however, John Broome has advocated an alternative view, on which value incomparability is explained in terms of vagueness or indeterminacy . In this paper I aim to further Broome’s view in two ways. Firstly, I want to supply independent reasons for thinking that the phenomenon of value incomparability is indeed a matter of the indeterminacy inherent in our comparative predicates. Secondly, I attempt to defend Broome’s account by warding off several objections that worry him, due mainly to Erik Carlson and Ruth Chang

Similar books and articles

Vagueness, Incomparability, and the Collapsing Principle.Erik Carlson - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):449-463.
The Small Improvement Argument.Nicolas Espinoza - 2008 - Synthese 165 (1):127 - 139.
Parity, Incomparability and Rationally Justified Choice.Martijn Boot - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 146 (1):75 - 92.
Are Hard Choices Cases of Incomparability?Ruth Chang - 2012 - Philosophical Issues 22 (1):106-126.
Parity, Interval Value, and Choice.Ruth Chang - 2005 - Ethics 115 (2):331-350.
Value Vagueness, Zones of Incomparability, and Tragedy.George W. Harris - 2001 - American Philosophical Quarterly 38 (2):155 - 176.
The Possibility of Parity.Ruth Chang - 2002 - Ethics 112 (4):659-688.


Added to PP

1,160 (#5,567)

6 months
54 (#17,529)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Weighing Lives.John Broome - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
The morality of freedom.J. Raz - 1988 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (1):108-109.

View all 16 references / Add more references