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We provide a general argument against value incomparability, based on a new style of impossibility result. In particular, we show that, against plausible background assumptions, value incomparability creates an incompatibility between two very plausible principles for ranking lotteries: a weak "negative dominance" principle (to the effect that Lottery 1 can be better than Lottery 2 only if some possible outcome of Lottery 1 is better than some possible outcome of Lottery 2) and a weak form of ex ante Pareto (to the effect that, if Lottery 1 gives an unambiguously better prospect to some individuals than Lottery 2, and equally good prospects to everyone else, then Lottery 1 is better than Lottery 2). After spelling out our results, and the arguments based on them, we consider which principle the proponent of incomparability ought to reject.

Author Profiles

Christian Tarsney
University of Texas at Austin
Harvey Lederman
University of Texas at Austin


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