### Abstract

There is a very plausible transitivity principle for theory choice. It says that if all criteria of theory evaluation are considered, and theory A is a better theory than theory B, and theory B is a better theory than theory C, then A is a better theory than C. I argue against this principle. It turns out that whenever there are two or more relevant and independent criteria of theory evaluation, and that whenever at least of one the criteria is 'nonlinear' in a certain sense, there may be violations of transitivity that do not violate any standards of rationality (of theory choice). This shows, again, that theory choice cannot be seen as merely the application of given rules of rational theory choice.

Original language | English |
---|---|

Pages (from-to) | 231-240 |

Number of pages | 9 |

Journal | Philosophy of Science |

Volume | 72 |

Issue number | 1 |

DOIs | |

Publication status | Published - Jan 2005 |

### Keywords

- NORMATIVE NATURALISM
- PREFERENCES
- TRANSITIVITY
- RATIONALITY

### Cite this

*Philosophy of Science*,

*72*(1), 231-240. https://doi.org/10.1086/428074

**Theory Choice and the Intransitivity of 'Is a Better Theory Than'.** / Baumann, Peter.

Research output: Contribution to journal › Article

*Philosophy of Science*, vol. 72, no. 1, pp. 231-240. https://doi.org/10.1086/428074

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Theory Choice and the Intransitivity of 'Is a Better Theory Than'

AU - Baumann, Peter

PY - 2005/1

Y1 - 2005/1

N2 - There is a very plausible transitivity principle for theory choice. It says that if all criteria of theory evaluation are considered, and theory A is a better theory than theory B, and theory B is a better theory than theory C, then A is a better theory than C. I argue against this principle. It turns out that whenever there are two or more relevant and independent criteria of theory evaluation, and that whenever at least of one the criteria is 'nonlinear' in a certain sense, there may be violations of transitivity that do not violate any standards of rationality (of theory choice). This shows, again, that theory choice cannot be seen as merely the application of given rules of rational theory choice.

AB - There is a very plausible transitivity principle for theory choice. It says that if all criteria of theory evaluation are considered, and theory A is a better theory than theory B, and theory B is a better theory than theory C, then A is a better theory than C. I argue against this principle. It turns out that whenever there are two or more relevant and independent criteria of theory evaluation, and that whenever at least of one the criteria is 'nonlinear' in a certain sense, there may be violations of transitivity that do not violate any standards of rationality (of theory choice). This shows, again, that theory choice cannot be seen as merely the application of given rules of rational theory choice.

KW - NORMATIVE NATURALISM

KW - PREFERENCES

KW - TRANSITIVITY

KW - RATIONALITY

U2 - 10.1086/428074

DO - 10.1086/428074

M3 - Article

VL - 72

SP - 231

EP - 240

JO - Philosophy of Science

JF - Philosophy of Science

SN - 0031-8248

IS - 1

ER -