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Transitivity and vagueness

Qizilbash, M. (2005) Transitivity and vagueness. Economics and Philosophy, 21 (1). pp. 109-131. ISSN 0266-2671

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Abstract

Axiomatic utility theory plays a foundational role in some accounts of normative principles. In this context, it is sometimes argued that transitivity of “better than” is a logical truth. Larry Temkin and Stuart Rachels use various examples to argue that “better than” is non–transitive, and that transitivity is not a logical truth. These examples typically involve some sort of “discontinuity.” In his discussion of one of these examples, John Broome suggests that we should reject the claim which involves “discontinuity.” We can, I suggest, make sense of the examples which Temkin uses while sacrificing neither transitivity nor “discontinuity.” This response to Temkin's examples involves developing and modifying James Griffin's account of “discontinuity.” If the account of “discontinuity” seems implausible, that is because of a failure to allow for vagueness. A similar argument can be made in the context of the well-known “repugnant conclusion.”

Item Type: Article
Academic Units: The University of York > Economics and Related Studies (York) > School of Politics, Economics and Philosophy (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2009 11:36
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2009 11:36
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0266267104000410
Status: Published
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Identification Number: 10.1017/S0266267104000410
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6035

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