Resolving the small improvement argument

A defense of the axiom of completeness


  • Jack Anderson University of Utah, United States



axiom of completeness, comparability, folk psychology, preference, utility theory


This paper defends the axiom of completeness against a particular incomparabilist objection, the small improvement argument (or SIA). In my view, a theory of choice must admit of a number of folk psychological assumptions, most importantly, that agents conceive of choice options as simplified possible worlds and have preferences between such worlds. In addition, this paper argues that an additional folk psychological assumption allows a trimodal theory of choice to satisfactorily address the concerns about preference-indifference intransitivity raised by the SIA. This additional claim is that agents resolve their consideration of choice options to varying degrees. In my view, the SIA can be answered without abandoning or modifying the axiom of completeness.

Author Biography

Jack Anderson, University of Utah, United States

Jack Anderson is a doctoral candidate in the department of philosophy at the University of Utah. His research focuses on the areas of practical reasoning and the philosophy of economics.




How to Cite

Anderson, J. (2015). Resolving the small improvement argument: A defense of the axiom of completeness. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 8(1), 24–41.