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Siblings:History/traditions: The Is/Ought Gap
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  1. R. F. Atkinson (1961). Hume on "is" and "Ought": A Reply to Mr. Macintyre. Philosophical Review 70 (2):231-238.
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  2. Lewis White Beck (1974). 'Was-Must Be' and 'is-Ought' in Hume. Philosophical Studies 26 (3-4):219 - 228.
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  3. Matthew S. Bedke (2012). Against Normative Naturalism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (1):111 - 129.
    This paper considers normative naturalism, understood as the view that (i) normative sentences are descriptive of the way things are, and (ii) their truth/falsity does not require ontology beyond the ontology of the natural world. Assuming (i) for the sake of argument, I here show that (ii) is false not only as applied to ethics, but more generally as applied to practical and epistemic normativity across the board. The argument is a descendant of Moore's Open Question Argument and Hume's Is-Ought (...)
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  4. P. Bloomfield (2007). Two Dogmas of Metaethics. Philosophical Studies 132 (3):439 - 466.
    The two dogmas at issue are the Humean dogma that “‘is’ statements do not imply ‘ought’ statements” and the Kantian dogma that “‘ought’ statements imply ‘can’” statements. The extant literature concludes these logically contradict each other. On the contrary, it is argued here that while there is no derivable formal contradiction, the juxtaposition of the dogmas manifests a philosophical disagreement over how to understand the logic of prescriptions. This disagreement bears on how to understand current metaethical debate between (...)
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  5. Matthew Braddock & Alexander Rosenberg (2012). Reconstruction in Moral Philosophy? Analyse & Kritik 34 (1):63-80.
    We raise three issues for Philip Kitcher's "Ethical Project" (2011): First, we argue that the genealogy of morals starts well before the advent of altruism-failures and the need to remedy them, which Kitcher dates at about 50K years ago. Second, we challenge the likelihood of long term moral progress of the sort Kitcher requires to establish objectivity while circumventing Hume's challenge to avoid trying to derive normative conclusions from positive ones--'ought' from 'is'. Third, we sketch ways in which Kitcher's metaethical (...)
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  6. Campbell Brown (2014). Minding the Is-Ought Gap. Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (1):53-69.
    The ‘No Ought From Is’ principle (or ‘NOFI’) states that a valid argument cannot have both an ethical conclusion and non-ethical premises. Arthur Prior proposed several well-known counterexamples, including the following: Tea-drinking is common in England; therefore, either tea-drinking is common in England or all New Zealanders ought to be shot. My aim in this paper is to defend NOFI against Prior’s counterexamples. I propose two novel interpretations of NOFI and prove that both are true.
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  7. J. Baird Callicott (1982). Hume's is/Ought Dichtomy and the Relation of Ecology to Leopold's Land Ethic. Environmental Ethics 4 (2):163-174.
    Environmental ethics in its modem classical expression by Aldo Leopold appears to fall afoul of Hume’s prohibition against deriving ought-statements from is-statements since it is presented as a logical consequence of the science of ecology. Hume’s is/ought dichotomy is reviewed in its historical theoretical context. A general formulation bridging is and ought, in Hume’s terms, meeting his own criteria for sound practical argument, is found. It is then shown that Aldo Leopold’s land ethic is expressible as a special case of (...)
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  8. Tanya de Villiers-Botha (2014). How Not to Be a Metaethical Naturalist –Jesse Prinz on the Emotional Construction of Morals. South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (2):145-154.
    Jesse Prinz develops a naturalistic metaethical theory with which he purports to sidestep ‘Hume's law’ by demonstrating how, on his theory, in describing what our moral beliefs commit us to we can determine what our moral obligations are. I aim to show that Prinz does not deliver on his prescriptive promise – he does not bridge the is–ought gap in any meaningful way. Given that Prinz goes on to argue that (1) his moral psychology highlights fundamental shortcomings in ‘traditional’ normative (...)
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  9. Julian Dodd & Suzanne Stern-Gillet (1995). The Is/Ought Gap, the Fact/Value Distinction and the Naturalistic Fallacy. Dialogue 34 (04):727-.
  10. Lachlan Doughney (2012). Ayn Rand and Deducing 'Ought' From 'Is'. Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 12 (1):151-168.
    The article discusses how and why philosopher Ayn Rand attempted to deduce an ought conclusion from only is premises. It contends that Rand did attempt to deduce what one ought and ought not do from what is or is not the case. It argues that Rand attempted to provide a universally objective unshakable normative moral claim, that people ought to act in accordance with her value and virtue system.
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  11. James Dreier (2002). Metaethics and Normative Commitment. Philosophical Issues 12 (s1):241-263.
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  12. Antoine C. Dussault, Ecocentrism and Appeals to Nature's Goodness: Must They Be Fallacious?
  13. Antoine C. Dussault (2013). L’écocentrisme et ses appels normatifs à la nature : sont-ils nécessairement fallacieux ? In É Litalien (ed.), Peut-on tirer une éthique de l'étude de la nature ? Les Cahiers d'Ithaque. 43-76.
  14. Antoine C. Dussault (2010). Le rôle de la science dans l'écocentrisme humien de Callicott. Revue Phares 10:103-123.
  15. Arthur J. Dyck (1981). Moral Requiredness: Bridging the Gap Between "Ought" and "Is": Part II. Journal of Religious Ethics 9 (1):131 - 150.
    Part I of this essay described "Ought" and "Value" as forms of moral requiredness. Now in Part II, a description of the ideal conditions for veridical perceptions of moral requiredness are specified. This is done in the form of an ideal observer type of analysis. This analysis is defended against those who oppose naturalism by assuming a bifurcation between 'ought' and 'is' and those who accuse naturalism of a "naturalistic fallacy." It is argued that theistic versions of the ideal observer (...)
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  16. Arthur J. Dyck (1978). Moral Requiredness: Bridging the Gap Between "Ought" and "Is": Part I. Journal of Religious Ethics 6 (2):293 - 318.
    This is the first of two essays concerned to specify in what sense "ought" and "value" are genuine characteristics of reality serving as data that help us empirically verify the truth and falsity of our moral judgments. This, the first, essay discusses the significance of the ought/is question for moral philosophy and theological ethics, giving reasons for the inadequacy of current views on the relation between "ought" and "is." Building on the perceptual theories of Gestalt psychologists yields a phenomenological description (...)
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  17. Shira Elqayam & Jonathan Evans (2011). Subtracting “Ought” From “Is”: Descriptivism Versus Normativism in the Study of Human Thinking. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (05):251-252.
    We propose a critique of normativism, defined as the idea that human thinking reflects a normative system against which it should be measured and judged. We analyze the methodological problems associated with normativism, proposing that it invites the controversial “is-ought” inference, much contested in the philosophical literature. This problem is triggered when there are competing normative accounts (the arbitration problem), as empirical evidence can help arbitrate between descriptive theories, but not between normative systems. Drawing on linguistics as a model, we (...)
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  18. Eric Engle, Is and Ought According to Hume (Etre Et Devoir Être Chez Hume).
    Supposedly one cannot infer norms (infer ought from is or is from ought) because of the so-called law of Hume. Hume however never says normative inference be impossible. Rather he says that whoever wishes to infer norms must bear the burden of expliciting their normative steps and their proof. The article explains this misunderstanding hopefully clearing up a field of needless confusion in the law.
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  19. W. D. Falk (1976). Hume on Is and Ought. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):359 - 378.
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  20. Gregor Flock, Solving the Is-Ought Problem.
    One of the most prolific and well-known debates in ethics and especially metaethics concerns the question of whether or not (and if so how) moral ought-beliefs can be derived from descriptive is-beliefs. In this paper I will propose the following two respective theses: That there is no unbridgable ontological, logical or semantical ʻgap’ between Is and Ought since moral cognitivism is true (thesis I) and that Ought consequently can be and routinely is derived from Is (thesis II). In order to (...)
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  21. Bruno Garofalo (1985). A Note on the 'is/Ought' Problem in Hume's Ethical Writings. Journal of Value Inquiry 19 (4):311-318.
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  22. P. T. Geach (1977). Again the Logic of "Ought". Philosophy 52 (202):473-476.
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  23. Daniel Guevara (2008). Rebutting Formally Valid Counterexamples to the Humean “is-Ought” Dictum. Synthese 164 (1):45-60.
    Various formally valid counterexamples have been adduced against the Humean dictum that one cannot derive an “ought” from an “is.” There are formal rebuttals—some very sophisticated now (e.g., Charles R. Pigden’s and Gerhard Schurz’s)—to such counterexamples. But what follows is an intuitive and informal argument against them. I maintain that it is better than these sophisticated formal defenses of the Humean dictum and that it also helps us see why it implausible to think that we can be as decisive about (...)
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  24. Scott Hill (2008). 'Is'–'Ought' Derivations and Ethical Taxonomies. Philosophia 36 (4):545-566.
    Hume seems to claim that there does not exist a valid argument that has all non-ethical sentences as premises and an ethical sentence as its conclusion. Starting with Prior, a number of counterexamples to this claim have been proposed. Unfortunately, all of these proposals are controversial. Even the most plausible have a premise that seems like it might be an ethical sentence or a conclusion that seems like it might be non-ethical. Since it is difficult to tell whether any of (...)
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  25. Frank Hindriks (2013). Collective Acceptance and the Is-Ought Argument. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):465-480.
    According to John Searle’s well-known Is-Ought Argument, it is possible to derive an ought-statement from is-statements only. This argument concerns obligations involved in institutions such as promising, and it relies on the idea that institutions can be conceptualized in terms of constitutive rules. In this paper, I argue that the structure of this argument has never been fully appreciated. Starting from my status account of constitutive rules, I reconstruct the argument and establish that it is valid. This reconstruction reveals that (...)
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  26. W. D. Hudson (1969). The is-Ought Question: A Collection of Papers on the Central Problems in Moral Philosophy. London, Macmillan.
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  27. W. D. Hudson (1964). Hume on is and Ought. Philosophical Quarterly 14 (56):246-252.
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  28. Gerald Hull, How to Derive Morality From Hume's Maxim.
    The argument that follows has a certain air of prestidigitation about it. I attempt to show that, given a couple of innocent-seeming suppositions, it is possible to derive a positive and complete theory of normative ethics from the Humean maxim "You can't get ought from is." This seems, of course, absurd. If the reasoning isn't completely unhinged, you may be sure, the trick has to lie in those "innocent-seeming" props. And, in fact, you are right. But every argument has to (...)
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  29. I. L. Humberstone (1996). A Study in Philosophical Taxonomy. Philosophical Studies 83 (2):121 - 169.
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  30. I. L. Humberstone (1982). First Steps in a Philosophical Taxonomy. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 12 (3):476-478.
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  31. David Hume (1739/1978). Treatise on Human Nature. Oxford University Press.
  32. Geoffrey Hunter (1962). Hume on Is and Ought. Philosophy 37 (140):148 - 152.
    Was Hume here claiming or implying that propositions about what men ought to do are radically different from purely factual propositions, and that they cannot ever be entailed by any purely factual propositions? No, despite Mr Hare, Professor Nowell-Smith, Professor Ayer, Miss Murdoch, Professor Flew, Mr Basson, and The Observer's Brief Guide to philosophy.
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  33. Noriaki Iwasa (2011). Sentimentalism and the Is-Ought Problem. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 11 (33):323-352.
    Examining the moral sense theories of Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, and Adam Smith from the perspective of the is-ought problem, this essay shows that the moral sense or moral sentiments in those theories alone cannot identify appropriate morals. According to one interpretation, Hume's or Smith's theory is just a description of human nature. In this case, it does not answer the question of how we ought to live. According to another interpretation, it has some normative implications. In this case, it (...)
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  34. Frank Jackson (1974). Defining the Autonomy of Ethics. Philosophical Review 83 (1):88-96.
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  35. Jeremiah Joven Joaquin, Dissolving the Is-Ought Problem: An Essay on Moral Reasoning.
    The debate concerning the proper way of understanding, and hence solving, the “is-ought problem” produced two mutually exclusive positions. One position claims that it is entirely impossible to deduce an imperative statement from a set of factual statements. The other position holds a contrary view to the effect that one can naturally derive an imperative statement from a set of factual statements under certain conditions. Although these two positions have opposing views concerning the problem, it should be evident that they (...)
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  36. Ingvar Johansson (1998). Hume's Surprise and the Logic of Belief Changes. Synthese 117 (2):275-291.
    If the logic of belief changes is extended to cover belief states which contain both factual and normative beliefs, it is easily shown that a change of a factual belief (an 'Is') in a mixed belief state can imply a change of a normative belief (an 'Ought') in the same state. With regard to Hume's so-called 'Is-Ought problem', this means that one has to distinguish its statics from its dynamics. When this is done, it becomes clear that changes of factual (...)
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  37. Carl Jørgensen (1962). The Relation Is/Ought Hume's Problem. Theoria 28 (1):53-69.
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  38. Carl Jørgensen (1956). On the Possibility of Deducing What Ought to Be From What Is. Ethics 66 (4):271-278.
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  39. Toomas Karmo (1988). Some Valid (but No Sound) Arguments Trivially Span the `Is'-`Ought' Gap. Mind 97 (386):252-257.
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  40. Jeremy Randel Koons (2006). An Argument Against Reduction in Morality and Epistemology. Philosophical Investigations 29 (3):250–274.
    Many naturalistically-minded philosophers want to accomplish a naturalistic reduction of normative (e.g. moral and epistemic) claims. Mindful of avoiding the naturalistic fallacy, such philosophers claim that they are not reducing moral and epistemic concepts or definitions. Rather, they are only reducing the extension of these normative terms, while admitting that the concepts possess a normative content that cannot be naturalistically reduced. But these philosophers run into a serious problem. I will argue that normative claims possess two dimensions of normativity. I (...)
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  41. David R. Kurtzman (1970). "Is," "Ought," and the Autonomy of Ethics. Philosophical Review 79 (4):493-509.
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  42. John Lemos (1999). Bridging the Is/Ought Gap with Evolutionary Biology: Is This a Bridge Too Far? Southern Journal of Philosophy 37 (4):559-577.
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  43. Dustin Locke (2014). Darwinian Normative Skepticism. In Michael Bergmann & Patrick Kain (eds.), Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief: Disagreement and Evolution. Oxford University Press.
    Sharon Street (2006) has argued that, given certain plausible evolutionary considerations, normative realism leads to normative skepticism. Street calls this ‘the Darwinian dilemma’. This paper considers the two most popular responses to the Darwinian dilemma and argues that both are problematic. According to the naturalist response, the evolutionary account of our normative dispositions reveals that there was selection for normative dispositions that were reliable with respect to normative truth. According to the minimalist response, the evolutionary account reveals that there was (...)
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  44. Murray MacBeth (1992). 'Is' and 'Ought' in Context. Hume Studies 18 (1):41-50.
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  45. A. C. MacIntyre (1959). Hume on "is" and "Ought". Philosophical Review 68 (4):451-468.
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  46. Barbara A. MacKinnon (1974). Hare's Use of Hume's Fork. Ethics 84 (4):332-338.
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  47. Stephen Maitzen (2008). Anti-Autonomism Defended: A Reply to Hill. Philosophia 36 (4):567-574.
    In the current issue of this journal, Scott Hill critiques some of my work on the “is”-“ought” controversy, the Hume-inspired debate over whether an ethical conclusion can be soundly, or even validly, derived from only non-ethical premises. I’ve argued that it can be; Hill is unconvinced. I reply to Hill’s critique, focusing on four key questions to which he and I give different answers.
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  48. Stephen Maitzen (2006). The Impossibility of Local Skepticism. Philosophia 34 (4):453-464.
    According to global skepticism, we know nothing. According to local skepticism, we know nothing in some particular area or domain of discourse. Unlike their global counterparts, local skeptics think they can contain our invincible ignorance within limited bounds. I argue that they are mistaken. Local skepticism, particularly the kinds that most often get defended, cannot stay local: if there are domains whose truths we cannot know, then there must be claims outside those domains that we cannot know even if they (...)
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  49. Stephen Maitzen (1998). Closing the "Is"-"Ought" Gap. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 28 (3):349-366.
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  50. Piotr T. Makowski (2011). Gilotyna Hume'a. Przegląd Filozoficzny 4 (80):317-334.
    The paper is devoted to the interpretation of one of the most important passages in modern Anglophon philosophy: III.1.3 of Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume. The author considers the problem of its meaning at an angle of the standard interpretation, which can be summed up in a dictum: ‘no ought from is’ (so called “Hume’s Guillotine”). The author outlines four possible approaches to this putative meaning of the Treatise passage and weighs arguments for them. The investigation, based mainly (...)
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