Chapter

Are There Incommensurable Values?

James Griffin

in Well-Being

Published in print December 1988 | ISBN: 9780198248439
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597558 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198248431.003.0006

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

 Are There Incommensurable Values?

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Begins the discussion on the measurement of well‐being: do our powers of measurement match our reasonable demands on measurement? For instance—the question for this chapter—are there incommensurable values? There are relations between values that can be confused with incommensurability: trumping, weighting, discontinuity, and irreducible pluralism. The sort of incommensurability that is most important in ethics is incomparability: one value's being unrankable with another as greater, less, or equal. The conclusion of the chapter is that prudential values are broadly comparable (a conclusion not clearly transferable to the various weights of moral norms).

Keywords: incommensurability; incomparability; measurement; pluralism; trumping; value; well‐being

Chapter.  6875 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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