Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (1):71 – 83 (1998)

Stuart Rachels
University of Alabama
Ethicists and economists commonly assume that if A is all things considered better than B, and B is all things considered better than C, then A is all things considered better than C. Call this principle Transitivity. Although it has great conceptual, intuitive, and empirical appeal, I argue against it. Larry S. Temkin explains how three types of ethical principle, which cannot be dismissed a priori, threaten Transitivity: (a) principles implying that in some cases different factors are relevant to comparing A to C than to comparing A to B or B to C; (b) principles of limited scope; (c) principles implying that morally relevant differences in degree can amount to differences in kind. My counterexamples employ a principle of type (c): pleasures and pains enormously different in intensity differ in kind. Temkin has also endorsed this type of counterexample, using arguments based on earlier drafts of this paper.
Keywords Transitivity  Intransitivity  Derek Parfit  The Second Paradox  Pain  The Mere Addition Paradox  The Repugnant Conclusion  Larry Temkin
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DOI 10.1080/00048409812348201
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References found in this work BETA

Overpopulation and the Quality of Life.Derek Parfit - 1986 - In Peter Singer (ed.), Applied Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 145-164.
A Continuum Argument for Intransitivity.Larry S. Temkin - 1996 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 25 (3):175-210.
Weighing Goods: Some Questions and Comments.Larry S. Temkin - 1994 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 23 (4):350-380.

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Citations of this work BETA

Intrinsic Vs. Extrinsic Value.Michael J. Zimmerman - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
An Intrapersonal Addition Paradox.Jacob M. Nebel - 2019 - Ethics 129 (2):309-343.
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.
In Defence of Repugnance.Michael Huemer - 2008 - Mind 117 (468):899-933.

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