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  1. Aaron Bronfman & J. L. Dowell (forthcoming). The Language of Reasons and 'Ought'. In Daniel Star (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Reasons.
  2. Aaron Bronfman & Janice Dowell, J. L., Contextualism About Deontic Conditionals.
  3. Fabrizio Cariani (forthcoming). Consequence and Contrast in Deontic Semantics. Journal of Philosophy.
    Contrastivists view 'ought'-sentences as expressing comparisons among alternatives. Deontic actualists believe that the value of each alternative in such a comparison is determined by what would actually happen if that alternative were to be the case. One of the arguments that motivates actualism is a challenge to the principle of agglomeration over conjunction—the principle according to which if you ought to run and you ought to jump, then you ought to run and jump. I argue that there is no way (...)
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  4. Fabrizio Cariani (forthcoming). Deontic Modals and Probability: One Theory to Rule Them All? In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press
    This paper motivates and develops a novel semantic framework for deontic modals. The framework is designed to shed light on two things: the relationship between deontic modals and substantive theories of practical rationality and the interaction of deontic modals with conditionals, epistemic modals and probability operators. I argue that, in order to model inferential connections between deontic modals and probability operators, we need more structure than is provided by classical intensional theories. In particular, we need probabilistic structure that interacts directly (...)
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  5. Fabrizio Cariani (2014). Attitudes, Deontics and Semantic Neutrality. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (4):491-511.
    It has been recently suggested that a semantic theory for deontic modals should be neutral between a very large range of normative and evaluative theories. This article aims to clarify this talk of neutrality, in particular its scope and motivation. My thesis is that neutrality is best understood as an empirical thesis about a fragment of natural language that includes deontic modals – not as a new, sui generis methodological constraint on natural language semantics.
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  6. Fabrizio Cariani (2013). 'Ought' and Resolution Semantics. Noûs 47 (3):534-558.
    I motivate and characterize an intensional semantics for ‘ought’ on which it does not behave as a universal quantifier over possibilities. My motivational argument centers on taking at face value some standard challenges to the quantificational semantics, especially to the idea that ‘ought’-sentences satisfy the principle of Inheritance. I argue that standard pragmatic approaches to these puzzles are either not sufficiently detailed or unconvincing.
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  7. Jennifer Carr (2014). The If P, Ought P Problem. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (4):555-583.
    Kratzer semantics for modals and conditionals generates the prediction that sentences of the form if p, ought p are trivially true. As Frank and Zvolenszky show, for certain flavors of modality, like deontic modality, this prediction is false. I explain some conservative solutions to the problem, and then argue that they are inadequate to account for puzzle cases involving self-frustrating oughts. These cases illustrate a general problem: there are two forms of information-sensitivity in deontic modals. Even generalizations of Kratzer semantics (...)
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  8. Nate Charlow (forthcoming). Decision Theory: Yes! Truth Conditions: No! In Nate Charlow Matthew Chrisman (ed.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press
    This essay makes the case for, in the phrase of Angelika Kratzer, packing the fruits of the study of rational decision-making into our semantics for deontic modals—specifically, for parametrizing the truth-condition of a deontic modal to things like decision problems and decision theories. Then it knocks it down. While the fundamental relation of the semantic theory must relate deontic modals to things like decision problems and theories, this semantic relation cannot be intelligibly understood as representing the conditions under which a (...)
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  9. Nate Charlow (2015). Prospects for an Expressivist Theory of Meaning. Philosophers' Imprint 15 (23):1-43.
    Advocates of Expressivism about basically any kind of language are best-served by abandoning a traditional content-centric approach to semantic theorizing, in favor of an update-centric or dynamic approach (or so this paper argues). The type of dynamic approach developed here — in contrast to the content-centric approach — is argued to yield canonical, if not strictly classical, "explanations" of the core semantic properties of the connectives. (The cases on which I focus most here are negation and disjunction.) I end the (...)
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  10. Nate Charlow (2014). The Meaning of Imperatives. Philosophy Compass 9 (8):540-555.
    This article surveys a range of current views on the semantics of imperatives, presenting them as more or less conservative with respect to the Truth-Conditional Paradigm in semantics. It describes and critiques views at either extreme of this spectrum: accounts on which the meaning of an imperative is a modal truth-condition, as well as various accounts that attempt to explain imperative meaning without making use of truth-conditions. It briefly describes and encourages further work on a family of views lying somewhere (...)
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  11. Nate Charlow (2013). What We Know and What to Do. Synthese 190 (12):2291-2323.
    This paper discusses an important puzzle about the semantics of indicative conditionals and deontic necessity modals (should, ought, etc.): the Miner Puzzle (Parfit, ms; Kolodny and MacFarlane, J Philos 107:115–143, 2010). Rejecting modus ponens for the indicative conditional, as others have proposed, seems to solve a version of the puzzle, but is actually orthogonal to the puzzle itself. In fact, I prove that the puzzle arises for a variety of sophisticated analyses of the truth-conditions of indicative conditionals. A comprehensive solution (...)
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  12. Nate Charlow (2013). Conditional Preferences and Practical Conditionals. Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (6):463-511.
    I argue that taking the Practical Conditionals Thesis seriously demands a new understanding of the semantics of such conditionals. Practical Conditionals Thesis: A practical conditional [if A][ought] expresses B’s conditional preferability given A Paul Weirich has argued that the conditional utility of a state of affairs B on A is to be identified as the degree to which it is desired under indicative supposition that A. Similarly, exploiting the PCT, I will argue that the proper analysis of indicative practical conditionals (...)
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  13. Nate Charlow (2011). Practical Language: Its Meaning and Use. Dissertation, University of Michigan
    I demonstrate that a "speech act" theory of meaning for imperatives is—contra a dominant position in philosophy and linguistics—theoretically desirable. A speech act-theoretic account of the meaning of an imperative !φ is characterized, broadly, by the following claims. -/- LINGUISTIC MEANING AS USE !φ’s meaning is a matter of the speech act an utterance of it conventionally functions to express—what a speaker conventionally uses it to do (its conventional discourse function, CDF). -/- IMPERATIVE USE AS PRACTICAL !φ's CDF is to (...)
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  14. Nate Charlow (2010). Restricting and Embedding Imperatives. In M. Aloni, H. Bastiaanse, T. de Jager & K. Schulz (eds.), Logic, Language, and Meaning: Selected Papers from the 17th Amsterdam Colloquium. Springer
    We use imperatives to refute a naïve analysis of update potentials (force-operators attaching to sentences), arguing for a dynamic analysis of imperative force as restrictable, directed, and embeddable. We propose a dynamic, non-modal analysis of conditional imperatives, as a counterpoint to static, modal analyses. Our analysis retains Kratzer's analysis of if-clauses as restrictors of some operator, but avoids typing it as a generalized quantifier over worlds (against her), instead as a dynamic force operator. Arguments for a restrictor treatment (but against (...)
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  15. Nate Charlow (2009). Imperative Statics and Dynamics. Dissertation, University of Michigan, Candidacy Paper
    Imperatives are linguistic devices used by an authority (speaker) to express wishes, requests, commands, orders, instructions, and suggestions to a subject (addressee). This essay's goal is to tentatively address some of the following questions about the imperative. -/- METASEMANTIC. What is the menu of options for understanding fundamental semantic notions like satisfaction, truth-conditions, validity, and entailment in the context of imperatives? Are there good imperative arguments, and, if so, how are they to be characterized? What are the options for understanding (...)
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  16. Matthew Chrisman (2012). On the Meaning of 'Ought'. In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, vol. 7. Oxford University Press 304.
    Discussions about the meaning of the word “ought” are pulled in two apparently competing directions. First, in ethical theory this word is used in the paradigmatic statement of ethical principles and conclusions about what some agent is obligated to do. This leads some ethical theorists to claim that the word “ought” describes a real relation, roughly, of being obligated to (realism) or expresses some non-cognitive attitude toward agents acting in certain ways (expressivism). Second, in theoretical linguistics this word is classified (...)
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  17. Matthew Chrisman (2012). 'Ought' and Control. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3):433-451.
    Ethical theorists often assume that the verb ?ought? means roughly ?has an obligation?; however, this assumption is belied by the diversity of ?flavours? of ought-sentences in English. A natural response is that ?ought? is ambiguous. However, this response is incompatible with the standard treatment of ?ought? by theoretical semanticists, who classify ?ought? as a member of the family of modal verbs, which are treated uniformly as operators. To many ethical theorists, however, this popular treatment in linguistics seems to elide an (...)
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  18. J. L. Dowell (forthcoming). Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normative Language. Mind:fzv148.
  19. Janice Dowell, J. L. (2013). Flexible Contextualism About Deontic Modals: A Puzzle About Information-Sensitivity. Inquiry 56 (2-3):149-178.
    According to a recent challenge to Kratzer's canonical contextualist semantics for deontic modal expressions, no contextualist view can make sense of cases in which such a modal must be information-sensitive in some way. Here I show how Kratzer's semantics is compatible with readings of the targeted sentences that fit with the data. I then outline a general account of how contexts select parameter values for modal expressions and show, in terms of that account, how the needed, contextualist-friendly readings might plausibly (...)
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  20. Janice Dowell, J. L. (2012). Contextualist Solutions to Three Puzzles About Practical Conditionals. In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, volume 7. Oxford
  21. Benj Hellie (forthcoming). Rationalization and the Ross Paradox. In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality. Oxford UP
    'Post this letter!' does not entail 'Post this letter or drink up my wine!' (the Ross Paradox) because one can be in a state with the content of the former without being in a state with the content of the latter; in turn, because the latter can rationalize drinking up my wine but the former cannot; in turn, because practical rationalization flows toward one's present situation, in contrast with the flow of theoretical rationalization from one's present situation. Formally, this is (...)
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  22. Benj Hellie (2015). Obligation and Aspect. Inquiry 59 (4):398-449.
    ‘Fred must open the door’ concerns Fred’s obligations. This obligative meaning is turned off by adding aspect: ‘Fred must have opened/be opening/have been opening the door’ are one and all epistemic. Why? In a nutshell: obligative ’must’ operates on procedural contents of imperative sentences, epistemic ‘must’ on propositional contents of declarative sentences; and adding aspect converts procedural into propositional content.
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  23. Frank Jackson & Robert Pargetter (1986). Oughts, Options, and Actualism. Philosophical Review 95 (2):233-255.
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  24. Andrew J. I. Jones & Ingmar Pörn (1986). Ought' and 'Must. Synthese 66 (1):89 - 93.
  25. Hans Kamp (1973). Free Choice Permission. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 74:57 - 74.
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  26. Niko Kolodny & John MacFarlane (2010). Ifs and Oughts. Journal of Philosophy 107 (3):115-143.
    We consider a paradox involving indicative conditionals (‘ifs’) and deontic modals (‘oughts’). After considering and rejecting several standard options for resolv- ing the paradox—including rejecting various premises, positing an ambiguity or hidden contextual sensitivity, and positing a non-obvious logical form—we offer a semantics for deontic modals and indicative conditionals that resolves the paradox by making modus ponens invalid. We argue that this is a result to be welcomed on independent grounds, and we show that rejecting the general validity of modus (...)
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  27. David Lewis (1979). A Problem About Permission. In Esa Saarinen, Risto Hilpinen, Illka Niiniluoto & Merrill Provence (eds.), Essays in Honour of Jaakko Hintikka on the Occasion of His Fiftieth Birthday on January 12, 1979. Reidel 163-175.
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  28. Rosja Mastop (2011). Norm Performatives and Deontic Logic. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 7 (2):83-105.
    Deontic logic is standardly conceived as the logic of true statements about the existence of obligations and permissions. In his last writings on the subject, G. H. von Wright criticized this view of deontic logic, stressing the rationality of norm imposition as the proper foundation of deontic logic. The present paper is an attempt to advance such an account of deontic logic using the formal apparatus of update semantics and dynamic logic. That is, we first define norm systems and a (...)
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  29. Paul McNamara (2011). Supererogation, Inside and Out: Toward an Adequate Scheme for Common Sense Morality. In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume I. Oxford University Press 202-235.
    The standard analysis of supererogation is that of optional actions that are praiseworthy to perform, but not blameworthy to skip. Widespread assumptions are that action beyond the call is at least necessarily equivalent to supererogation ("The Equivalence") and that forgoing certain agent-favoring prerogatives entails supererogation (“The Corollary”). I argue that the classical conception of supererogation is not reconcilable with the Equivalence or the Corollary, and that the classical analysis of supererogation is seriously defective. I sketch an enriched conceptual scheme, “Doing (...)
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  30. Paul McNamara (1996). Must I Do What I Ought (or Will the Least I Can Do Do)? In Mark Brown & Jose' Carmo (eds.), Deontic Logic, Agency and Normative Systems. Berlin: Springer-Verlag 154-173.
    Some key pre-theoretic semantic and pragmatic phenomena that support a negative answer to the main title question are identified and a conclusion of some significance is drawn: a pervasive bipartisan presupposition of twentieth century ethical theory and deontic logic is false. Next, an intuitive model-theoretic framework for "must" and "ought" is hypothesized. It is then shown how this hypothesis helps to explain and predict all the pre-theoretic phenomena previously observed. Next, I show that the framework hypothesized possesses additional expressive and (...)
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  31. Friederike Moltmann (forthcoming). Cognitive Products and the Semantics of Attitude Verbs and Deontic Modals. In Friederike Moltmann & Mark Textor (eds.), Act-Based Conceptions of Propositional Content. Contemporary and Historical Perspectives. Oxford University Press
    This paper outlines a semantic account of attitude reports and deontic modals based on cognitive and illocutionary products, mental states, and modal products, as opposed to the notion of an abstract proposition or a cognitive act.
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  32. Friederike Moltmann (forthcoming). Nominalizations: The Case of Nominalizations of Modal Predicates. In Lisa Matthewson, Cécile Meier, Hotze Rullman & Thomas Ede Zimmermann (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Semantics. Wiley
    Nominalizations of modal predicates have received little, if any, attention in the semantic or philosophical literature. This paper will argue that nominalizations of modal predicates require recognizing a novel ontological category of modal objects and it will outline a new semantics of modals based on modal objects.
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  33. Dilip Ninan (2005). Two Puzzles About Deontic Necessity. In J. Gajewski, V. Hacquard, B. Nickel & S. Yalcin (eds.), New Work on Modality, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.
    The deontic modal must has two surprising properties: an assertion of must p does not permit a denial of p, and must does not take past tense complements. I first consider an explanation of these phenomena that stays within Angelika Kratzer’s semantic framework for modals, and then offer some reasons for rejecting that explanation. I then propose an alternative account, according to which simple must sentences have the force of an imperative.
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  34. John Pittard & Alex Worsnip (forthcoming). Metanormative Contextualism and Normative Uncertainty. Mind.
    We offer a new argument in favor of metanormative contextualism, the thesis that the semantic value of a normative ‘ought’ claim of the form ‘S ought to Φ’ depends on the value of one or more parameters whose values vary in a way that is determined by the context of utterance. The debate over this contextualist thesis has centered on cases that involve ‘ought’ claims made in the face of uncertainty regarding certain descriptive facts. Contextualists, relativists, and invariantists all have (...)
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  35. Paul Portner (2007). Imperatives and Modals. Natural Language Semantics 15 (4):351-383.
    Imperatives may be interpreted with many subvarieties of directive force, for example as orders, invitations, or pieces of advice. I argue that the range of meanings that imperatives can convey should be identified with the variety of interpretations that are possible for non-dynamic root modals (what I call ‘priority modals’), including deontic, bouletic, and teleological readings. This paper presents an analysis of the relationship between imperatives and priority modals in discourse which asserts that, just as declaratives contribute to the Common (...)
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  36. Ana Cristina Quelhas & Ruth Byrne (2003). Reasoning with Deontic and Counterfactual Conditionals. Thinking and Reasoning 9 (1):43 – 65.
    We report two new phenomena of deontic reasoning: (1) For conditionals with deontic content such as, "If the nurse cleaned up the blood then she must have worn rubber gloves", reasoners make more modus tollens inferences (from "she did not wear rubber gloves" to "she did not clean up the blood") compared to conditionals with epistemic content. (2) For conditionals in the subjunctive mood with deontic content, such as, "If the nurse had cleaned up the blood then she must have (...)
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  37. Mark Schroeder (2011). Ought, Agents, and Actions. Philosophical Review 120 (1):1 - 41.
    According to a naïve view sometimes apparent in the writings of moral philosophers, ‘ought’ often expresses a relation between agents and actions – the relation that obtains between an agent and an action when that action is what that agent ought to do. It is not part of this naïve view that ‘ought’ always expresses this relation – on the contrary, adherents of the naïve view are happy to allow that ‘ought’ also has an epistemic sense, on which it means, (...)
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  38. Aaron Sloman (1970). `Ought' and `Better'. Mind 79 (315):385-394.
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  39. William B. Starr, A Preference Semantics for Imperatives.
    Imperative sentences like Dance! do not seem to represent the world. Recent modal analyses challenge this idea, but its intuitive and historical appeal remain strong. This paper presents three new challenges for a non-representational analysis, showing that the obstacles facing it are even steeper than previously appreciated. I will argue that the only way for the non-representationalist to meet these three challenges is to adopt a dynamic semantics. Such a dynamic semantics is proposed here: imperatives introduce preferences between alternatives. This (...)
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  40. Michael Stocker (1971). 'Ought' and 'Can'. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 49 (3):303 – 316.
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  41. Eric Swanson (2008). Modality in Language. Philosophy Compass 3 (6):1193-1207.
    This article discusses some of the ways in which natural language can express modal information – information which is, to a first approximation, about what could be or must be the case, as opposed to being about what actually is the case. It motivates, explains, and raises problems for Angelika Kratzer's influential theory of modal auxiliaries, and introduces a new approach to one important debate about the relationships between modality, evidentiality, context change, and imperative force.
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  42. Zoltán Gendler Szabó & Joshua Knobe (2013). Modals with a Taste of the Deontic. Semantics and Pragmatics 6 (1):1-42.
    The aim of this paper is to present an explanation for the impact of normative considerations on people’s assessment of certain seemingly purely descriptive matters. The explanation is based on two main claims. First, a large category of expressions are tacitly modal: they are contextually equivalent to modal proxies. Second, the interpretation of predominantly circumstantial or teleological modals is subject to certain constraints which make certain possibilities salient at the expense of others.
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  43. Sara Verbrugge & Hans Smessaert (2010). On the Argumentative Strength of Indirect Inferential Conditionals. Argumentation 24 (3):337-362.
    Inferential or epistemic conditional sentences represent a blueprint of someone’s reasoning process from premise to conclusion. Declerck and Reed (2001) make a distinction between a direct and an indirect type. In the latter type the direction of reasoning goes backwards, from the blatant falsehood of the consequent to the falsehood of the antecedent. We first present a modal reinterpretation in terms of Argumentation Schemes of indirect inferential conditionals (IIC’s) in Declerck and Reed (2001). We furthermore argue for a distinction between (...)
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  44. Kai von Fintel, How to Say Ought in Foreign: The Composition of Weak Necessity Modals.
    1 This paper has been presented at the workshop “Time and Modality: A Round Table on Tense, Mood, and Modality”, Paris, December 2005, at a CUNY linguistics colloquium in May 2006, and at the 6th Workshop on Formal Linguistics in Florian´opolis, Brazil, August 2006. We thank the audiences at those presentations, in particular Orin Percus, Tim Stowell, Marcel den Dikken, Anna Szabolcsi, Chris Warnasch, Roberta Pires de Oliveira, Renato Miguel Basso, and Ana M¨uller. We thank Noam Chomsky, Cleo Condoravdi, and (...)
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  45. Kai von Fintel, What to Do If You Want to Go to Harlem: Anankastic Conditionals and Related Matters.
    At first glance, this is an entirely unremarkable kind of sentence. It is easy to find naturally occuring exponents. Its meaning is also clear: taking the A train is a necessary condition for going to Harlem. Hence the term “anankastic conditional”, Ananke being the Greek protogonos of inevitability, compulsion and necessity.
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  46. Lee Walters (2014). Conditionals, Modals, and Hypothetical Syllogism. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (1):90-97.
    Moti Mizrahi (2013) presents some novel counterexamples to Hypothetical Syllogism (HS) for indicative conditionals. I show that they are not compelling as they neglect the complicated ways in which conditionals and modals interact. I then briefly outline why HS should nevertheless be rejected.
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  47. Heinrich Wansing (1998). Nested Deontic Modalities: Another View of Parking on Highways. [REVIEW] Erkenntnis 49 (2):185-199.
    A suggestion is made for representing iterated deontic modalities in stit theory, the “seeing-to-it-that” theory of agency. The formalization is such that normative sentences are represented as agentive sentences and therefore have history dependent truth conditions. In contrast to investigations in alethic modal logic, in the construction of systems of deontic logic little attention has been paid to the iteration... of the deontic modalities.
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  48. Ralph Wedgwood (forthcoming). Objective and Subjective 'Ought'. In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press
    This essay offers an account of the truth conditions of sentences involving deontic modals like ‘ought’, designed to capture the difference between objective and subjective kinds of ‘ought’ This account resembles the classical semantics for deontic logic: according to this account, these truths conditions involve a function from the world of evaluation to a domain of worlds (equivalent to a so-called “modal base”), and an ordering of the worlds in such domains; this ordering of the worlds itself arises from two (...)
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  49. Ralph Wedgwood (2006). The Meaning of 'Ought'. In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics: Volume 1. Clarendon Press 127-160.
    In this paper, I apply the "conceptual role semantics" approach that I have proposed elsewhere (according to which the meaning of normative terms is given by their role in practical reasoning or deliberation) to the meaning of the term 'ought'. I argue that this approach can do three things: It can give an adequate explanation of the special connection that normative judgments have to practical reasoning and motivation for action. It can give an adequate account of why the central principles (...)
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  50. Malte Willer (2012). A Remark on Iffy Oughts. Journal of Philosophy 109 (7):449-461.
    Every adequate semantics for conditionals and deontic ought must offer a solution to the miners paradox about conditional obligations. Kolodny and MacFarlane have recently argued that such a semantics must reject the validity of modus ponens. I demonstrate that rejecting the validity of modus ponens is inessential for an adequate solution to the paradox.
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