Essays on value, preference and freedom

Abstract: Essay I develops a new framework for preference relations, that makes further preference relations beyond the trichotomy of preference, dispreference and indifference conceptually possible. The new framework models relations in terms of swaps, which are conceived of as transfers from one alternative state to another. With this new preference framework the essay presents a fitting-attitude analysis of new value relations that avoids some problems of earlier proposals.Essay II examines the small-improvement argument that is usually considered the most powerful argument against comparability, that is, the view that for any two alternatives an agent is rationally required to either prefer one of the alternatives to the other or be indifferent between them. The essay argues that while there might be reasons to believe each of the premises in the small-improvement argument, there is a conflict between these reasons. The conflict is such that we are not provided with a reason to believe the conjunction of the premises.Essay III develops a new measure of freedom of choice based on the proposal that a set offers more freedom of choice than another if, and only if, the expected degree of dissimilarity between a random alternative from the set of possible alternatives and the most similar offered alternative in the set is smaller. Furthermore, a version of this measure is developed that is able to take into account the values of the possible options.

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