The essentially comparative conception of value entails that the value of a state of affairs does not depend solely upon features intrinsic to the state of affairs, but also upon extrinsic features, such as the set of feasible alternatives. It has been argued that this conception of value gives us reason to abandon the transitivity of the better than relation. This paper shows that the support for intransitivity derived from this conception of value is very limited. On its most plausible interpretations, it merely provides a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for intransitivity. It is further argued that the essentially comparative conception of value appears to support a disjunctive conclusion: there is incommensurability of value or betterness is not transitive. Of these two alternatives, incommensurability is preferable, because it is far less threatening to our other axiological commitments.
- Essentially comparative