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Value incomparability and indeterminacy

By Cristian Constantinescu


The paper examines two competing accounts of value incomparability presented 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 not in terms of determinate failure of the trichotomy of value relations, but in terms\ud of vagueness, or indeterminacy. The paper aims to further Broome’s view in two ways. Firstly, it seeks to supply some independent reasons for thinking that the phenomenon of\ud value incomparability is indeed a matter of the indeterminacy inherent in our comparative predicates. Secondly, it attempts to defend Broome’s account by warding off several objections that worry him, due mainly to Ruth Chang and Erik Carlson

Topics: phil
Publisher: Springer
Year: 2012
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