Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Philosophy

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 140 pages) : PDF file

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Rachel Cohon

Committee Members

Robert Howell, Jon Mandle


decision-making method, incommensurability, incomparability, Millgram, practical reason, Ruth Chang, Decision making, Rational choice theory, Comparison (Philosophy)

Subject Categories

Cognitive Psychology | Philosophy


When confronted with an important choice between two very different options, an agent often will be at a loss as to how to decide between them. This is often true even if the agent has a good understanding of the pros and cons of each option, and even if she is committed to something like "the best overall decision for me." One way to analyze this situation is to assert that the options are incomparable for the agent. Incomparability arises when, for two options, it seems that one is neither better nor worse than, nor equal to, the other. If cases of incomparability exist, they raise a serious issue for rational decision making. How can an agent make rational decisions if the options she is choosing between are incomparable? My dissertation sets out to define this problem clearly and to provide an original solution to it that allows for the possibility of rational choice in the face of incomparable options.