Value Relations

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Abstract

The objective of this paper is to provide a general account of value relations. But it takes its departure is a special type of value relation, parity. The notion of parity is due to Ruth Chang. According to her, two items may be evaluatively comparable even when neither is better than, worse than, or equally good as the other. There is a fourth kind of comparability: being on a par. Recently, Joshua Gert has suggested that this somewhat elusive notion of evaluative parity can be easily accounted for if one interprets value comparisons as normative assessments of preference and allows for two levels of normativity: requirement and permission. The distinction between equality in value and parity is easily made on this approach. As I show below, if appropriately extended, the approach in question also allows for a straightforward distinction between parity and incomparability.
However, while Gert’s basic idea is attractive, the way he develops it is flawed. He takes it that rationally permissible preferences one might have for an item can vary in strength and then models value comparisons by comparing intervals of permissible preference strengths for different items. As will be seen, however, such an interval modeling has features that make it unfit for the representation of the structure of value relationships. Instead, I provide an alternative modeling in terms of intersections of rationally permissible preference orderings, use it to delineate a general taxonomy of binary value relations, and conclude with some tentative remarks about the implications of this approach to rational choice.

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  • Philosophy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-49
JournalTheoria
Volume74
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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