Politics, Philosophy and Economics 7 (3):285-299 (2008)

Alex Voorhoeve
London School of Economics
Stuart Rachels and Larry Temkin have offered a purported counter-example to the acyclicity of the relationship 'all things considered better than'. This example invokes our intuitive preferences over pairs of alternatives involving a single person's painful experiences of varying intensity and duration. These preferences, Rachels and Temkin claim, are confidently held, entirely reasonable, and cyclical. They conclude that we should drop acyclicity as a requirement of rationality. I argue that, together with the findings of recent research on the way people evaluate episodes of pain, the use of a heuristic known as similarity-based decision-making explains why our intuitive preferences may violate acyclicity in this example. I argue that this explanation should lead us to regard these preferences with suspicion, because it indicates that they may be the result of one or more biases. I conclude that Rachels' and Temkin's example does not provide sufficient grounds for rejecting acyclicity
Keywords Rational choice theory  transitivity  decision theory
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DOI 10.1177/1470594x08092104
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References found in this work BETA

A Continuum Argument for Intransitivity.Larry S. Temkin - 1996 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 25 (3):175-210.
When Does Duration Matter in Judgment and Decision Making?Dan Ariely & George Loewenstein - 2000 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 129 (4):508-523.

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Citations of this work BETA

Spectrum Arguments and Hypersensitivity.Theron Pummer - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1729-1744.
Vaulting Intuition: Temkin's Critique of Transitivity.Alex Voorhoeve - 2013 - Economics and Philosophy 29 (3):409-425.
Infinite options, intransitive value, and supererogation.Daniel Muñoz - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (6):2063-2075.

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