Ron Aboodi


Jennifer Rose Carr’s (2020) article “Normative Uncertainty without Theories” proposes a method to maximize expected value under normative uncertainty without Intertheoretic Value Comparison (hereafter IVC). Carr argues that this method avoids IVC because it avoids theories: the agent’s credence is distributed among normative hypotheses of a particular type, which don’t constitute theories. However, I argue that Carr’s method doesn’t avoid or help to solve what I consider as the justificatory problem of IVC, which isn’t specific to comparing theories as such. This threatens the implementability of Carr’s method. Fortunately, I also show how Carr’s method can nevertheless be implemented. I identify a type of epistemic state where the justificatory problem of IVC is not a necessary obstacle to maximizing expected value. In such states, the uncertainty stems from indecisive normative intuitions, and the agent justifiably constructs all the normative hypotheses (each on the basis of a different, internally-consistent subset of her normative intuitions) by reference to the same unit of value. This part of my argument complements not only Carr’s (2020) argument, but also some moderate defenses of explicit IVC. The combination of Carr’s paper and mine helps to illuminate the conditions for maximizing expected value under normative uncertainty without unjustified value comparison.


Discussion Notes