Oughts and ends

Philosophical Studies 143 (3):315 - 340 (2009)
This paper advances a reductive semantics for ‘ought’ and a naturalistic theory of normativity. It gives a unified analysis of predictive, instrumental, and categorical uses of ‘ought’: the predictive ‘ought’ is basic, and is interpreted in terms of probability. Instrumental ‘oughts’ are analyzed as predictive ‘oughts’ occurring under an ‘in order that’ modifer (the end-relational theory). The theory is then extended to categorical uses of ‘ought’: it is argued that they are special rhetorical uses of the instrumental ‘ought’. Plausible conversational principles explain how this end-relational ‘ought’ can perform the expressive functions of the moral ‘ought’. The notion of an ‘ought-simpliciter’ is also discussed.
Keywords Ought  Normativity  End-relational theory  Semantics and pragmatics  Hypothetical imperative  Categorical imperative  Probability  Reductive naturalism  Deontic modals
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DOI 10.2307/27734408
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Ralph Wedgwood (2009). Intrinsic Values and Reasons for Action. In Ernest Sosa & Enrique Villanueva (eds.), Metaethics. Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 342-363.

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