The case for comparability

Cian Dorr, Jacob M. Nebel, Jake Zuehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We argue that all comparative expressions in natural language obey a principle that we call Comparability: if (Formula presented.) and (Formula presented.) are at least as (Formula presented.) as themselves, then either (Formula presented.) is at least as (Formula presented.) as (Formula presented.) or (Formula presented.) is at least as (Formula presented.) as (Formula presented.). 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-453
Number of pages40
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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