When is Transitivity Wrong?

Transitivity of preferences is an important assumption in the ‘orthodox’ theory of rational choice. Your preferences fulfill the assumption if you, for example, prefer x to y, y to z, and therefore x to z. Who wouldn’t have transitive preferences?

Failure to recognize relations of transitivity is characteristic of schizophrenics; those disposed to blatantly ignore transitivity are unintelligible to us; we cannot understand their pattern of actions as sensible ways to promote their values.

— Gerald Gaus, The Order of Public Reason (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 70.

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