Value Superiority

Publication year: 2015

Arrhenius, Gustaf , Wlodek Rabinowicz

in: The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory Eds. Iwao Hirose and Jonas Olson, Oxford University Press.

Suppose that A and B are two kinds of goods such that more of each is better than less. A is strongly superior to B if any amount of A is better than any amount of B. It is weakly superior to B if some amount of A is better than any amount of B. There are many examples of these relations in the literature, sometimes under the labels “higher goods” and “discontinuity.” The chapter gives a precise and generalized statement of Strong and Weak Superiority and discusses different ways in which these relations can be relevant to the aggregation of welfare. It also proves a number of general results. One of the results gives rise to a dilemma: It can be used as an argument against the existence of value superiority or, alternatively, as an argument against the view that superiority entails a radical difference in value.