The Case for Comparability

Noûs 57 (2):414-453 (2023)
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Abstract

We argue that all comparative expressions in natural language obey a principle that we call Comparability: if x and y are at least as F as themselves, then either x is at least as F as y or y is at least as F as x. This principle has been widely rejected among philosophers, especially by ethicists, and its falsity has been claimed to have important normative implications. We argue that Comparability is needed to explain the goodness of several patterns of inference that seem manifestly valid, that the purported failures of Comparability would have absurd consequences, and that the influential arguments against Comparability are less compelling than they may have initially seemed.

Author Profiles

Cian Dorr
New York University
Jake Nebel
Princeton University
Jake Zuehl
New York University

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