What ought probably means, and why you can't detach it

Synthese 177 (1):67 - 89 (2010)
Some intuitive normative principles raise vexing 'detaching problems' by their failure to license modus ponens. I examine three such principles (a self-reliance principle and two different instrumental principles) and recent stategies employed to resolve their detaching problems. I show that solving these problems necessitates postulating an indefinitely large number of senses for 'ought'. The semantics for 'ought' that is standard in linguistics offers a unifying strategy for solving these problems, but I argue that an alternative approach combining an end-relational theory of normativity with a comparative probabilistic semantics for 'ought' provides a more satisfactory solution.
Keywords Semantics of ought  Detaching problem  Normativity  Deontic modals  Instrumental principle
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2307/40985620
 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: 15,831
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
Derek Parfit (2011). On What Matters. Oxford University Press.
Thomas Scanlon (1998). What We Owe to Each Other. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Michael Bratman (1987/1999). Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason. Center for the Study of Language and Information.

View all 54 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Matthew Chrisman (2012). 'Ought' and Control. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3):433-451.
Sam Shpall (2014). Moral and Rational Commitment. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (1):146-172.
Sam Shpall (2013). Wide and Narrow Scope. Philosophical Studies 163 (3):717-736.

View all 16 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

254 ( #3,718 of 1,724,752 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

103 ( #5,421 of 1,724,752 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

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