Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

THE SMALL IMPROVEMENT ARGUMENT, EPISTEMICISM AND INCOMPARABILITY

  • Edmund Tweedy Flanigan (a1) and John Halstead (a2)

Abstract:

The Small Improvement Argument (SIA) is the leading argument for value incomparability. All vagueness-based accounts of the SIA have hitherto assumed the truth of supervaluationism, but supervaluationism has some well-known problems. This paper explores the implications of epistemicism, a leading rival theory. We argue that if epistemicism is true, then options are comparable in small improvement cases. Moreover, even if SIAs do not exploit vagueness, if epistemicism is true, then options cannot be on a par. The epistemicist account of the SIA has an advantage over leading existing rival accounts of the SIA because it accounts for higher-order hard cases.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Broome, J. 1997. Is incommensurability vagueness? In Incommensurability, Incomparability, and Practical Reasoning, ed. Chang, R., 6789. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Broome, J. 1999. Ethics out of Economics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Broome, J. 2004. Weighing Lives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bueno, O. and Colyvan, M.. 2012. Just what is vagueness? Ratio 25: 1933. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9329.2011.00513.x.
Chang, R. (ed.) 1997. Introduction. In Incommensurability, Incomparability, and Practical Reason, 134. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Chang, R. 2002. The possibility of parity. Ethics 112: 659688.
Dunaway, B. 2016. Ethical vagueness and practical reasoning. Philosophical Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1093/pq/pqw038.
Elson, L. 2014. Heaps and chains: is the chaining argument for parity a sorites? Ethics 124: 557571.
Espinoza, N. 2008. The small improvement argument. Synthese 165: 127139.
Greenough, P. 2003. Vagueness: a minimal theory. Mind 112: 235281. https://doi.org/10.1093/mind/112.446.235.
Gustafsson, J. E. 2013. Indeterminacy and the small-improvement argument. Utilitas 25: 433445.
Gustafsson, J. E. 2014. Neither ‘good’ in terms of ‘better’ nor ‘better’ in terms of ‘good’. Noûs 48: 466473. https://doi.org/10.1111/nous.12038.
Gustafsson, J. E. 2017. Population axiology and the possibility of a fourth category of absolute value. Unpublished ms.
Hawthorne, J. and McGonigal, A.. 2008. The many minds account of vagueness. Philosophical Studies 138: 435440. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-007-9110-3.
Huemer, M. 2013. Transitivity, comparative value, and the methods of ethics. Ethics 123: 318345. https://doi.org/10.1086/668905.
Hyde, D. 1997. From heaps and gaps to heaps of gluts. Mind 106: 641660.
Keefe, R. and Smith, P.. 1997. Introduction: theories of vagueness. In Vagueness: A Reader, 157. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Messerli, M. and Reuter, K.. 2016. Hard cases of comparison. Philosophical Studies. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-016-0796-y.
Raz, J. 1986. The Morality of Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Rescher, N. 2009. Unknowability: An Inquiry into the Limits of Knowledge. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Sorensen, R. 1988. Vagueness, measurement, and blurriness. Synthese 75: 4582.
Sorensen, R. 2001. Vagueness and Contradiction. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Sorensen, R. 2013. Vagueness. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Zalta, E. N., Winter 2013. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2013/entries/vagueness/.
Sousa, R. B. de. 1974. The good and the true. Mind 83: 534551.
Wasserman, R. 2004. Indeterminacy, ignorance and the possibility of parity. Philosophical Perspectives 18: 391403. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1520-8583.2004.00034.x.
Williams, J. R. G. 2016. Indeterminacy, angst and conflicting values. Ratio 29: 412433. https://doi.org/10.1111/rati.12141.
Williamson, T. 1994. Vagueness. London: Routledge.
Williamson, T. 1997. Précis of vagueness. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57: 921928. https://doi.org/10.2307/2953810.
Williamson, T. 1999. On the structure of higher-order vagueness. Mind 108: 127143.
Wright, C. 2010. The illusion of higher-order vagueness. In Cuts and Clouds: Vagueness, Its Nature and Its Logic, ed. Dietz, R. and Moruzzi, S., 523549. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed