How It All Relates. Exploring the Space of Value Comparisons
ISBN: 978-91-88473-31-8, 978-91-88473-32-5
This thesis explores whether the three standard value relations, “better than”, “worse than” and “equally as good”, exhaust the possibilities in which things can relate with respect to their value. Or more precisely, whether there are examples in which one of these relations is not instantiated. There are cases in which it is not obvious that one of these relations does obtain; these are referred to as “hard cases of comparison”. These hard cases of comparison become interesting, since if it not the case that the standard three value relations obtains in these cases then the three standard relations do not exhaust the possibility of instantiated value relations. It is argued that for some of the hard cases of comparison, the standard relations determinately obtain. For some it is indeterminate, due to vagueness, which of the three relations obtains, but it is determinate that one of them obtains. Thereafter it is argued that the influential Collapsing Argument fails in ruling out other accounts of the hard cases of comparison. Since one cannot depend on the Collapsing Argument in order to conclude that all items are related by the standard three relations, the investigation continues. It is argued that none of the hard cases of comparison are cases of incomparability. Furthermore, none of them are cases of a fourth basic positive value relation such as “parity”. Consequently, for all the hard cases of comparison one of the standard value relations holds, although sometimes we do not know which one and sometimes it is indeterminate which one holds. This means that there is no reason to assume that one of the standard three value relations does not hold between items we are comparing. This is followed by a brief discussion about the normative consequences of this result. The thesis ends with four different appendices in which related topics are discussed.