Sources of transitivity

Economics and Philosophy 39 (2):285-306 (2023)
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Abstract

Why should ‘better than’ be transitive? The leading answer in ethics is that values do not change with context. But this cannot be the entire source of transitivity, I argue, since transitivity can fail even if values never change, so long as they are complex, with multiple dimensions combined non-additively. I conclude by exploring a new hypothesis: that all alleged cases of nontransitive betterness, such as Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion, can and should be modelled as the result of complexity, not context-relativity.

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Daniel Muñoz
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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