Adam Elga

Suppose that for twenty-eight years in a row, Consumer Reports rates itself as the #1 consumer ratings magazine. A picky reader might complain to the editors:

You are evenhanded and rigorous when rating toasters and cars. But you obviously have an ad hoc exception to your standards for consumer magazines. You always rate yourself #1! Please apply your rigorous standards across the board in the future.

This complaint has no force. The editors should reply:

To put forward our recommendations about toasters and cars is to put them forward as good recommendations. And we can’t consistently do that while also claiming that contrary recommendations are superior. So our always rating ourselves #1 does not result from an arbitrary or ad hoc exception to our standards. We are forced to rate ourselves #1 in order to be consistent with our other ratings.

Adam Elga, ‘How to Disagree about How to Disagree’, in Richard Feldman and Ted A. Warfield (eds.), Disagreement, Oxford, 2010