The Good, the Bad, and the Transitivity of Better Than

Noûs 52 (4):874-899 (2018)
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Abstract

The Rachels–Temkin spectrum arguments against the transitivity of better than involve good or bad experiences, lives, or outcomes that vary along multiple dimensions—e.g., duration and intensity of pleasure or pain. This paper presents variations on these arguments involving combinations of good and bad experiences, which have even more radical implications than the violation of transitivity. These variations force opponents of transitivity to conclude that something good is worse than something that isn’t good, on pain of rejecting the good altogether. That is impossible, so we must reject the spectrum arguments.

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Jake Nebel
Princeton University

Citations of this work

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.
An Intrapersonal Addition Paradox.Jacob M. Nebel - 2019 - Ethics 129 (2):309-343.
Spectrum arguments and hypersensitivity.Theron Pummer - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1729-1744.
Sorites On What Matters.Theron Pummer - 2022 - In Jeff McMahan, Timothy Campbell, Ketan Ramakrishnan & Jimmy Goodrich (eds.), Ethics and Existence: The Legacy of Derek Parfit. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 498–523.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
Rationality Through Reasoning.John Broome - 2013 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - London and New York: Routledge.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.

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