Many normative theories set forth in the welfare economics, distributive justice and cognate literatures posit noncomparabilities or incommensurabilities between magnitudes of various kinds. In some cases these gaps are predicated on metaphysical claims, in others upon epistemic claims, and in still others upon political-moral claims. I show that in all such cases they are best given formal expression in nonstandard logics that reject bivalence, excluded middle, or both. I do so by reference to an illustrative case study: a contradiction known to beset John Rawls's selection and characterization of primary goods as the proper distribuendum in any distributively just society. The contradiction is avoided only by reformulating Rawls's claims in a nonstandard form, which form happens also to cohere quite attractively with Rawls's intuitive argumentation on behalf of his claims.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Hockett, Robert C., "Noncomparabilities & Non Standard Logics" (2006). Cornell Law Faculty Publications. 54.