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Institute for Logic, Language and Computation

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18 April 2008, Logic Tea, Michael Morreau, University of Maryland

Speaker: Michael Morreau, University of Maryland
Title: Comparative Similarity 17.00-18.00
Date: Friday 18 April 2008
Location: Room P.017, Euclides Building, Plantage Muidergracht 24, Amsterdam

A comparative conception of similarity lies at the foundation of much philosophy. Which of several future persons is you? According to closest-continuer theory, whichever resembles you more closely, overall. Would the match have lit, if struck? Possible-worlds theorists say this depends on what happened in those worlds in which the match was struck, but which are otherwise, overall, most like the actual world.

I take up the question of how a relation of overall comparative similarity might emerge from a multitude of similarities and differences in various respects. The surprising answer is that, basically, it cannot. Kenneth Arrow's celebrated theorem of social choice shows that the only way to combine several dimensions of comparative similarity into a single overall comparison is for one of the dimensions to be a dictator. This plays havoc with philosophy founded on comparative similarity.

The Logic Tea homepage can be found at http://www.illc.uva.nl/logic_tea/ For more information, please contact Joel Uckelmann () or Edgar Andrade (

Please note that this newsitem has been archived, and may contain outdated information or links.