The Meaning of 'Ought'

Oxford Studies in Metaethics 1:127-160 (2006)
Abstract
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 of deontic logic are correct. It can give an explanation of the precise ways in which the term 'ought' is systematically context-sensitive, so that the term expresses different (but systematically related) concepts in different contexts.
Keywords Ought  Semantics  Deontic logic
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Citations of this work BETA
Stephen Finlay (2009). Oughts and Ends. Philosophical Studies 143 (3):315 - 340.
Stephen Finlay & Justin Snedegar (2013). One Ought Too Many. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (1):102-124.

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