On the Meaning of 'Ought'

In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, vol. 7. Oxford University Press. 304 (2012)
Abstract
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 as a modal auxiliary verb alongside words like “might,” “may,” “can,” “must,” etc. This leads some theoretical linguists to claim that the word “ought” is a weak necessity modal, which can be modeled with universal quantification over a restricted set of possible worlds. This chapter seeks some resolution of this tension by showing how versions of realism and expressivism can be modified in light of the best semantics of “ought” as a weak necessity modal. In addition, the chapter explains how this semantics might point to a third view—inferentialism—that accounts for the meaning of “ought” not in terms of what relation it describes, nor in terms of what attitude it expresses, but rather in terms of its inferential role.
Keywords metaethics  ought  semantics  modals
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,404
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA
Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2011-08-19

Total downloads

140 ( #6,094 of 1,102,972 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

25 ( #6,059 of 1,102,972 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.