The aim of this paper is to present an explanation for the impact of normative considerations on people’s assessment of certain seemingly purely descriptive matters. The explanation is based on two main claims. First, a large category of expressions are tacitly modal: they are contextually equivalent to modal proxies. Second, the interpretation of predominantly circumstantial or teleological modals is subject to certain constraints which make certain possibilities salient at the expense of others.
The deontic modal must has two surprising properties: an assertion of must p does not permit a denial of p, and must does not take past tense complements. I first consider an explanation of these phenomena that stays within Angelika Kratzer’s semantic framework for modals, and then offer some reasons for rejecting that explanation. I then propose an alternative account, according to which simple must sentences have the force of an imperative.
According to a naïve view sometimes apparent in the writings of moral philosophers, ‘ought’ often expresses a relation between agents and actions – the relation that obtains between an agent and an action when that action is what that agent ought to do. It is not part of this naïve view that ‘ought’ always expresses this relation – on the contrary, adherents of the naïve view are happy to allow that ‘ought’ also has an epistemic sense, on which it means, (...) roughly, that some proposition is likely to be the case, and adherents of the naïve view are also typically happy to allow that ‘ought’ also has an evaluative sense, on which it means, roughly, that were things ideal, some proposition would be the case.1 What is important to the naïve view is not that these other senses of ‘ought’ do not exist, but rather that they are not exhaustive – for what they leave out, is the important deliberative sense of ‘ought’, which is the central subject of moral inquiry about what we ought to do and why – and it is this deliberative sense of ‘ought’ which the naïve view understands to express a relation between agents and actions.2 In contrast, logically and linguistically sophisticated philosophers – with a few notable exceptions3 – have rejected this naïve view. According to a dominant perspective in the interpretation of deontic logic and in linguistic semantics, for example, articulated by Roderick Chisholm (1964) and Bernard Williams (1981) in philosophy and in the dominant paradigm in linguistic semantics as articulated in particular by.. (shrink)
Some philosophers hold that „ought‟ is ambiguous between a sense expressing a propositional operator and a sense expressing a relation between an agent and an action. We defend the opposing view that „ought‟ always expresses a propositional operator against Mark Schroeder‟s recent objections that it cannot adequately accommodate an ambiguity in „ought‟ sentences between evaluative and deliberative readings, predicting readings of sentences that are not actually available. We show how adopting an independently well-motivated contrastivist semantics for „ought‟, according to which (...) „ought‟ is always relativized to a contrast set of relevant alternatives, enables us to explain the evaluative-deliberative ambiguity and why the availability of these readings depends on sentential grammar. (shrink)
A suggestion is made for representing iterated deontic modalities in stit theory, the “seeing-to-it-that” theory of agency. The formalization is such that normative sentences are represented as agentive sentences and therefore have history dependent truth conditions. In contrast to investigations in alethic modal logic, in the construction of systems of deontic logic little attention has been paid to the iteration... of the deontic modalities.
On Kratzer’s canonical account, modal expressions (like “might” and “must”) are represented semantically as quantifiers over possibilities. Such expressions are themselves neutral; they make a single contribution to determining the propositions expressed across a wide range of uses. What modulates the modality of the proposition expressed—as bouletic, epistemic, deontic, etc.—is context.2 This ain’t the canon for nothing. Its power lies in its ability to figure in a simple and highly unified explanation of a fairly wide range of language use. (...) Recently, though, the canon’s neat story has come under attack. The challenge cases involve the epistemic use of a modal sentence for which no single resolution of the contextual parameter appears capable of accommodating all our intuitions.3 According to these revisionaries, such cases show that the canonical story needs to be amended in some way that makes multiple bodies of information relevant to the assessment of such statements. Here I show that how the right canonical, flexibly contextualist account of modals can accommodate the full range of challenge cases. The key will be to extend Kratzer’s formal semantic account with an account of how context selects values for a modal’s.. (shrink)
This paper analyzes Mally’s system of deontic logic, introduced in his The Basic Laws of Ought: Elements of the Logic of Willing (1926). We discuss Mally’s text against the background of some contributions in the literature which show that Mally’s axiomatic system for deontic logic is flawed, in so far as it derives, for an arbitrary A, the theorem “A ought to be the case if and only if A is the case”, which represents a collapse of obligation. (...) We then try to sort out and understand which axioms are responsible for the collapse and consider two ways of amending Mally’s system: (i) by changing its original underlying logical basis, that is classical logic, and (ii) by modifying Mally’s axioms. (shrink)
I describe /mindset semantics/, a semantical framework built around a conception of entailment as preservation of /support/ (implicit acceptance undergirded by competence) together with a /classical modal/ semantics for declarative sentences---with the central application of showing how a language could integrate discourse that is expressive with discourse that is informative (namely, of solving the 'Frege-Geach problem'). (The approach owes much to the work of Veltman and Yalcin, and, less proximally, of Stalnaker.) I provide a range of philosophical, technical, and pedagogical (...) arguments for mindset semantics. And I apply mindset semantics to as wide a range of phenomena as I have been able to think of (some more familiar, others less familiar): epistemic modals, avowals of belief, avowals of what it's like, /ascriptions/ of all these, 'looks'-sentences, avowals of presumption, avowals of subjective credence and statements of objective chance, indicative and subjunctive conditionals, conditional probability, deonticmodals, questions, avowals of wonderment, metaphysical modals, metaphysical indeterminacy, avowals and ascriptions of knowledge, 'ought'-claims, and avowals of various practical positions (intending, trying, needing). (shrink)
Deontic logic is standardly conceived as the logic of true statements about the existence of obligations and permissions. In his last writings on the subject, G. H. von Wright criticized this view of deontic logic, stressing the rationality of norm imposition as the proper foundation of deontic logic. The present paper is an attempt to advance such an account of deontic logic using the formal apparatus of update semantics and dynamic logic. That is, we first define (...) norm systems and a semantics of norm performatives as transformations of the norm system. Then a static modal logic for norm propositions is defined on that basis. In the course of this exposition we stress the performative nature of (i) free choice permission, (ii) the sealing legal principle and (iii) the social nature of permission. That is, (i) granting a disjunctive permission means granting permission for both disjuncts; (ii) non-prohibition does not entail permission, but the authority can declare that whatever he does not forbid is thereby permitted; and (iii) granting permission to one person means that all others are committed to not prevent the invocation of that permission. (shrink)
Imperatives may be interpreted with many subvarieties of directive force, for example as orders, invitations, or pieces of advice. I argue that the range of meanings that imperatives can convey should be identiﬁed with the variety of interpretations that are possible for non-dynamic root modals (what I call ‘priority modals’), including deontic, bouletic, and teleological readings. This paper presents an analysis of the relationship between imperatives and priority modals in discourse which asserts that, just as declaratives (...) contribute to the Common Ground and thus provide information relevant to the interpretation of epistemic modals in subsequent discourse, imperatives contribute to another component of the discourse context, the addressee’s To-Do List, which serves as a contextual resource for the interpretation of priority modals. This analysis predicts that the interpretation of imperatives and modals in discourse is constrained in surprising ways; these predictions are borne out. (shrink)
In this paper I will be concerned with the question as to whether expressivist theories of meaning can coherently be combined with deflationist theories of truth. After outlining what I take expressivism to be and what I take deflationism about truth to be, I’ll explain why I don’t take the general version of this question to be very hard, and why the answer is ‘yes’. Having settled that, I’ll move on to what I take to be a more pressing and (...) interesting version of the question, arising from a prima facie tension between deflationism about truth and the motivations underlying expressivism for what I take to be two of its most promising applications: to indicative conditionals and epistemic modals. Here I’ll argue that the challenge is substantive, but that there is no conceptual obstacle to its being met, provided that one’s expressivism takes the right form. (shrink)
In “Epistemic Modals,” Seth Yalcin argues that what explains the deficiency of sentences containing epistemic modals of the form ‘p and it might be that not-p’ is that sentences of this sort are strictly contradictory, and thus are not instances of a Moore-paradox as has been previous suggested. Benjamin Schnieder, however, argues in his Yalcin’s explanation of these sentences’ deficiency turns out to be insufficiently general, as it cannot account for less complex but still defective sentences, such as (...) ‘Suppose it might be raining.’ Consequently, Schnieder proposes his own, expressivist treatment of epistemic modals which he thinks can explain the deficiency of both the original sentence type as well as more complex cases of embedded sentences containing epistemic modals. In this study, I argue that although Schnieder is right to draw our attention to the explanatory failure of Yalcin’s account, we aren’t forced to adopt Schnieder’s expressivist account of epistemic modals. I defend instead a contextualist-friendly alternative which explains the deficiencies of all the relevant sentence types, while avoiding both the defects of Yalcin’s account and the intuitive costs of expressivism. (shrink)
This paper presents and discusses a range of counterexamples to the common view that quantifiers cannot take scope over epistemic modals. Some of the counterexamples raise problems for ‘force modifier’ theories of epistemic modals. Some of the counterexamples raise problems for Robert Stalnaker’s theory of counterfactuals, according to which a special kind of epistemic modal must be able to scope over a whole counterfactual. Finally, some of the counterexamples suggest that David Lewis must countenance ‘would’ counterfactuals in which (...) a covert ‘would’ scopes over the whole consequent of the counterfactual, including an overt ‘might.’. (shrink)
Introduction -- Instrumental rationality -- Social order -- Deontic constraint -- Intentional states -- Preference noncognitivism -- A naturalistic perspective -- Transcendental necessity -- Weakness of will -- Normative ethics.
It is widely acknowledged that epistemic modals admit of inter-subjective flexibility. This paper introduces intra-subjective flexibility for epistemic modals and draws on this flexibility to argue that fallibilism is consistent with the standard account of epistemic modals.
John Horty effectively develops deontic logic (the logic of ethical concepts like obligation and permission) against the background of a formal theory of agency. He incorporates certain elements of decision theory to set out a new deontic account of what agents ought to do under various conditions over extended periods of time. Offering a conceptual rather than technical emphasis, Horty's framework allows a number of recent issues from moral theory to be set out clearly and discussed from a (...) uniform point of view. (shrink)
We present the inconsistency-adaptive deontic logic DP r , a nonmonotonic logic for dealing with conflicts between normative statements. On the one hand, this logic does not lead to explosion in view of normative conflicts such as O A ∧ O ∼A, O A ∧ P ∼A or even O A ∧ ∼O A. On the other hand, DP r still verifies all intuitively reliable inferences valid in Standard Deontic Logic (SDL). DP r interprets a given premise set (...) ‘as normally as possible’ with respect to SDL. Whereas some SDL-rules are verified unconditionally by DP r , others are verified conditionally. The latter are applicable unless they rely on formulas that turn out to behave inconsistently in view of the premises. This dynamic process is mirrored by the proof theory of DP r. (shrink)
Whereas geometrical oppositions (logical squares and hexagons) have been so far investigated in many fields of modal logic (both abstract and applied), the oppositional geometrical side of “deontic logic” (the logic of “obligatory”, “forbidden”, “permitted”, . . .) has rather been neglected. Besides the classical “deontic square” (the deontic counterpart of Aristotle’s “logical square”), some interesting attempts have nevertheless been made to deepen the geometrical investigation of the deontic oppositions: Kalinowski (La logique des normes, PUF, Paris, (...) 1972) has proposed a “deontic hexagon” as being the geometrical representation of standard deontic logic, whereas Joerden (jointly with Hruschka, in Archiv für Rechtsund Sozialphilosophie 73:1, 1987), McNamara (Mind 105:419, 1996) and Wessels (Die gute Samariterin. Zur Struktur der Supererogation, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 2002) have proposed some new “deontic polygons” for dealing with conservative extensions of standard deontic logic internalising the concept of “supererogation”. Since 2004 a new formal science of the geometrical oppositions inside logic has appeared, that is “ n -opposition theory”, or “NOT”, which relies on the notion of “logical bi-simplex of dimension m ” ( m = n − 1). This theory has received a complete mathematical foundation in 2008, and since then several extensions. In this paper, by using it, we show that in standard deontic logic there are in fact many more oppositional deontic figures than Kalinowski’s unique “hexagon of norms” (more ones, and more complex ones, geometrically speaking: “deontic squares”, “deontic hexagons”, “deontic cubes”, . . ., “deontic tetraicosahedra”, . . .): the real geometry of the oppositions between deontic modalities is composed by the aforementioned structures (squares, hexagons, cubes, . . ., tetraicosahedra and hyper-tetraicosahedra), whose complete mathematical closure happens in fact to be a “deontic 5-dimensional hyper-tetraicosahedron” (an oppositional very regular solid). (shrink)
I scrutinize the relationship between the way emotions give rise to modal judgement and the metaphysical necessity we ascribe to the latter. While moral concepts are often described as response-dependent, I propose to analyse them as response-enabled or grokking. I discuss how grokkingness is embedded in the emotional mechanisms that provoke imaginative resistance; how it shapes our manifest image of the world and the place of morality in it; the latter’s deep contingency as contrasted to its metaphysical necessity; and what (...) is essential to a moral outlook notwithstanding deep contingency. (shrink)
Deontic reasoning is thinking about whether actions are forbidden or allowed, obligatory or not obligatory. It is proposed that social norms, imposing constraints on individual actions, constitute the fundamental concept for the system of these four deontic modalities, and that people reason from such norms flexibly according to deontic core principles. Two experiments are presented, one on deontic conditional reasoning, the other on “pure” deontic reasoning. Both experiments demonstrate people's high deontic competence and confirm (...) the proposed representational and inferential principles. Experiment 1 additionally shows small effects of the conditional formulations. These findings support the dual source approach (Beller & Spada, 2003) that distinguishes between domain-specific and domain-general inferences. Implications for other theories of deontic reasoning are discussed. (shrink)
Over the years, several philosophers have argued that deonticmodals, like ‘ought’ and ‘should’ in English, and their closest equivalents in other languages, are systematically polysemous and context-sensitive. Specifically, one way in which these ‘ought’-concepts differ from each other is that some of these concepts are more “objective”, while others are more “subjective” or “information-relative”: when ‘ought’ expresses one of these more objective concepts, what an agent “ought” to do in a given situation may be determined by facts (...) that neither the agent nor any of his friends and advisers either knows or is even in a position to know; when it expresses one of the more “subjective” concepts, what an agent “ought” to do is in some way more sensitive to the informational state that the agent (or his friends and advisers) find themselves in at the conversationally salient time. This essay first presents some linguistic evidence in favour of this view of ‘ought’, and then proposes a precise account of the truth-conditions of propositions involving these ‘ought’-concepts that will explain more clearly how exactly these concepts are related. (shrink)
We report two new phenomena of deontic reasoning: (1) For conditionals with deontic content such as, "If the nurse cleaned up the blood then she must have worn rubber gloves", reasoners make more modus tollens inferences (from "she did not wear rubber gloves" to "she did not clean up the blood") compared to conditionals with epistemic content. (2) For conditionals in the subjunctive mood with deontic content, such as, "If the nurse had cleaned up the blood then (...) she must have had to wear rubber gloves", reasoners make the same frequency of all inferences as they do for conditionals in the indicative mood with deontic content. In this regard, subjunctive deontics are different from subjunctive epistemic conditionals: reasoners interpret subjunctive epistemic conditionals as counterfactual and they make more negative inferences such as modus tollens from them. The experiments show these two phenomena occur for deontic conditionals that contain the modal auxiliary "must" and ones that do not. We discuss the results in terms of the mental representations of deontic conditionals and of counterfactual conditionals. (shrink)
This paper compares two ways of formalising defeasible deontic reasoning, both based on the view that the issues of conflicting obligations and moral dilemmas should be dealt with from the perspective of nonmonotonic reasoning. The first way is developing a special nonmonotonic logic for deontic statements. This method turns out to have some limitations, for which reason another approach is recommended, viz. combining an already existing nonmonotonic logic with a deontic logic. As an example of this method (...) the language of Reiter's default logic is extended to include modal expressions, after which the argumentation framework in default logic of [20, 22] is used to give a plausible logical analysis of moral dilemmas and prima facie obligations. (shrink)
We consider an infinite hierarchy of systems of Alethic Modal Logic with so-called Levels of Perfection, and add to them suitable definitions of such interesting deontic categories as those of supererogation, offence, conditional obligation and conditional permission. We then state three problems concerning the proper characterization of the resulting logic(s) for our defined notions, and discuss two of these problems in some detail.
In this paper we present an executable approach to model interactions between agents that involve sensitive, privacy-related information. The approach is formal and based on deontic, epistemic and action logic. It is conceptually related to the Belief-Desire-Intention model of Bratman. Our approach uses the concept of sphere as developed by Waltzer to capture the notion that information is provided mostly with restrictions regarding its application. We use software agent technology to create an executable approach. Our agents hold beliefs about (...) the world, have goals and commitment to the goals. They have the capacity to reason about different courses of action, and communicate with one another. The main new ingredient of our approach is the idea to model information itself as an intentional agent whose main goal it is to preserve the integrity of the information and regulate its dissemination. We demonstrate our approach by applying it to an important process in the insurance industry: applying for a life insurance. In this paper we will: (1) describe the challenge organizational complexity poses in moral reasoning about informational relationships; (2) propose an executable approach, using software agents with reasoning capacities grounded in modal logic, in which moral constraints on informational relatio nships can be modeled and investigated; (3) describe the details of our approach, in which information itself is modeled as an intentional agent in its own right; (4) test and validate it by applying it to a concrete ‘hard case’ from the insurance industry; and (5) conclude that our approach upholds and offers potential for both research and practical application. (shrink)
By “epistemic modals,” I mean epistemic uses of modal words: adverbs like “necessarily,” “possibly,” and “probably,” adjectives like “necessary,” “possible,” and “probable,” and auxiliaries like “might,” “may,” “must,” and “could.” It is hard to say exactly what makes a word modal, or what makes a use of a modal epistemic, without begging the questions that will be our concern below, but some examples should get the idea across. If I say “Goldbach’s conjecture might be true, and it might be (...) false,” I am not endorsing the Cartesian view that God could have made the truths of arithmetic come out differently. I make the claim not because I believe in the metaphysical contingency of mathematics, but because I know that Goldbach’s conjecture has not yet been proved or refuted. Similarly, if I say “Joe can’t be running,” I am not saying that Joe’s constitution prohibits him from running, or that Joe is essentially a non-runner, or that Joe isn’t allowed to run. My basis for making the claim may be nothing more than that I see Joe’s running shoes hanging on a hook. (shrink)
I think that there are good reasons to adopt a relativist semantics for epistemic modal claims such as ``the treasure might be under the palm tree'', according to which such utterances determine a truth value relative to something finer-grained than just a world (or a <world, time> pair). Anyone who is inclined to relativise truth to more than just worlds and times faces a problem about assertion. It's easy to be puzzled about just what purpose would be served by assertions (...) of this kind, and how to understand what we'd be up to in our use of sentences like ``the treasure might be under the palm tree'', if they have such peculiar truth conditions. After providing a very quick argument to motivate a relativist view of epistemic modals, I bring out and attempt to resolve this problem in making sense of the role of assertions with relativist truth conditions. Solving this problem should be helpful in two ways: first, it eliminates an apparently forceful objection to relativism, and second, spelling out the relativist account of assertion and communication will help to make clear just what the relativist position is, exactly, and why it's interesting. (shrink)
Seth Yalcin has pointed out some puzzling facts about the behaviour of epistemic modals in certain embedded contexts. For example, conditionals that begin ‘If it is raining and it might not be raining, …’ sound unacceptable, unlike conditionals that begin ‘If it is raining and I don’t know it, …’. These facts pose a prima facie problem for an orthodox treatment of epistemic modals, according to which they express propositions about the knowledge of some contextually specified individual or (...) group. This paper develops an explanation of the puzzling facts about embedding within an orthodox framework, using broadly Gricean resources. (shrink)
I develop a new argument for an expressivist account of epistemic modals, which starts from a puzzle about epistemic modals which Seth Yalcin recently presented. I reject Yalcin's own solution to the puzzle, and give a better explanation based on expressivism concerning epistemic modals. I also address two alleged problems for expressivism: do embeddings of epistemic modals pose a serious threat to expressivism, and how can expressivism account for disagreements about statements containing epistemic modals?
There are two fundamental classes of terms traditionally distinguished within moral vocabulary: the deontic and the aretaic. The terms from the first set serve in the prescriptive function of a moral code. The second class contains terms used for a moral evaluation of an action. The problem of the relationship between the aretaic and the deontic has not been discussed often by philosophers. It is, however, a very important and interesting issue: any normative ethical theory which takes as (...) basic one set of these concepts should justify such choice and establish, at least implicitly, the logical relation with the other set. This paper is organized around the criticism of Stocker’s ‘sameness thesis’ (Stocker 1973 ): the claim that ‘good’ or ‘right’ mean the same thing. It is first presented in Stocker’s own formulation and criticized as implausible in that form. Some friendly modifications to his idea are suggested and then further discussed with the skeptical conclusion: no matter how close we bring deontic and aretaic notions, the gap between them will remain and any attempt to define or even explain one set of terms in another will leave something behind. (shrink)
A very simple contextualist treatment of a sentence containing an epistemic modal, e.g. a might be F, is that it is true iff for all the contextually salient community knows, a is F. It is widely agreed that the simple theory will not work in some cases, but the counterexamples produced so far seem amenable to a more complicated contextualist theory. We argue, however, that no contextualist theory can capture the evaluations speakers naturally make of sentences containing epistemic modals. (...) If we want to respect these evaluations, our best option is a relativist theory of epistemic modals. On a relativist theory, an utterance of a might be F can be true relative to one context of evaluation and false relative to another. We argue that such a theory does better than any rival approach at capturing all the behaviour of epistemic modals. (shrink)
This paper discusses an important puzzle about the semantics of indicative conditionals and deontic necessity modals ( should , ought , etc.): the Miner Puzzle (Parfit, ms; Kolodny and MacFarlane, J Philos 107:115–143, 2010 ). Rejecting modus ponens for the indicative conditional, as others have proposed, seems to solve a version of the puzzle, but is actually orthogonal to the puzzle itself. In fact, I prove that the puzzle arises for a variety of sophisticated analyses of the truth-conditions (...) of indicative conditionals. A comprehensive solution requires rethinking the relationship between relevant information (what we know) and practical rankings of possibilities and actions (what to do). I argue that (i) relevant information determines whether considerations of value may be treated as reasons for actions that realize them and against actions that don’t, (ii) incorporating this normative fact requires a revision of the standard ordering semantics for weak (but not for strong) deontic necessity modals, and (iii) an off-the-shelf semantics for weak deontic necessity modals, due to von Fintel and Iatridou, which distinguishes “basic” and “higher-order” ordering sources, and interprets weak deontic necessity modals relative to both, is well-suited to this task. The prominence of normative considerations in our proposal suggests a more general methodological lesson: formal semantic analysis of natural language modals expressing normative concepts demands that close attention be paid to the nature of the underlying normative phenomena. (shrink)
Predicates of personal taste (fun, tasty) and epistemic modals (might, must) share a similar analytical difficulty in determining whose taste or knowledge is being expressed. Accordingly, they have parallel behavior in attitude reports and in a certain kind of disagreement. On the other hand, they differ in how freely they can be linked to a contextually salient individual, with epistemic modals being much more restricted in this respect. I propose an account of both classes using Lasersohn’s (Linguistics and (...) Philosophy 28: 643–686, 2005) “judge” parameter, at the same time arguing for crucial changes to Lasersohn’s view in order to allow the extension to epistemic modals and address empirical problems faced by his account. (shrink)
Recently, Yalcin (Epistemic modals. Mind, 116 , 983–1026, 2007) put forward a novel account of epistemic modals. It is based on the observation that sentences of the form ‘ & Might ’ do not embed under ‘suppose’ and ‘if’. Yalcin concludes that such sentences must be contradictory and develops a notion of informational consequence which validates this idea. I will show that informational consequence is inadequate as an account of the logic of epistemic modals: it cannot deal (...) with reasoning from uncertain premises. Finally, I offer an alternative way of explaining the relevant linguistic data. (shrink)
The class of true modal verbs in English is usually understood to include auxiliary verbs conveying possibility and necessity (including predictive future) that lack non-finite morphological forms; from a syntactic perspective, these verbs occur only in finite clauses (as opposed to infinitives or gerunds). Nevertheless the true modals do not inflect for third-person singular agreement, unlike normal present-tense verbs. When they are negated, true modals always precede the negative particle not, regardless of their understood scope relative to negation, (...) and never give rise to do-support. (shrink)
In assessing the veridicality of utterances, we normally seem to assess the satisfaction of conditions that the speaker had been concerned to get right in making the utterance. However, the debate about assessor-relativism about epistemic modals, predicates of taste, gradable adjectives and conditionals has been largely driven by cases in which seemingly felicitous assessments of utterances are insensitive to aspects of the context of utterance that were highly relevant to the speaker’s choice of words. In this paper, we offer (...) an explanation of why certain locutions invite insensitive assessments, focusing primarily on ’tasty’ and ’might’. We spell out some reasons why felicitous insensitive assessments are puzzling and argue briefly that recent attempts to accommodate such assessments (including attempts by John MacFarlane, Kai von Fintel and Anthony Gillies) all fail to provide more than hints at a solution to the puzzle. In the main part of the paper, we develop an account of felicitous insensitive assessments by identifying a number of pragmatic factors that influence the felicity of assessments. Before closing, we argue that the role of these factors extend beyond cases considered in the debate about assessor-relativism and fit comfortably with standard contextualist analyses of the relevant locutions. (shrink)
Ethical thought is articulated around normative concepts. Standard examples of normative concepts are good, reason, right, ought, and obligatory. Theorists often treat the normative as an undifferentiated domain. Even so, it is common to distinguish between two kinds of normative concepts: evaluative or axiological concepts, such as good, and deontic concepts, such as ought. This encyclopedia entry discusses the many differences between the two kinds of concepts.
The paper discusses ten philosophical problems in deontic logic: how to formally represent norms, when a set of norms may be termed ‘coherent’, how to deal with normative conﬂicts, how contraryto-duty obligations can be appropriately modeled, how dyadic deontic operators may be redeﬁned to relate to sets of norms instead of preference relations between possible worlds, how various concepts of permission can be accommodated, how meaning postulates and counts-as conditionals can be taken into account, and how sets of (...) norms may be revised and merged. The problems are discussed from the viewpoint of input/output logic as developed by van der Torre & Makinson. We argue that norms, not ideality, should take the central position in deontic semantics, and that a semantics that represents norms, as input/output logic does, provides helpful tools for analyzing, clarifying and solving the problems of deontic logic. (shrink)
Standard dyadic deontic logic (as well as standard deontic logic) has recently come under attack by moral philosophers who maintain that the axioms of standard dyadic deontic logic are biased against moral theories which generate moral conflicts. Since moral theories which generate conflicts are at least logically tenable, it is argued, standard dyadic deontic logic should be modified so that the set of logically possible moral theories includes those which generate such conflicts. I argue that (1) (...) there are only certain types of moral conflicts which are interesting, and which have worried moral theorists, (2) the modification of standard dyadic deontic logic along the lines suggested by those who defend the possibility of moral conflicts makes possible only uninteresting types of moral conflicts, and (3) the general strategy of piecemeal modification standard dyadic deontic logic is misguided: the possibility of interesting moral conflicts cannot be achieved in that way. (shrink)
In Meyer’s promising account  deontic logic is reduced to a dynamic logic. Meyer claims that with his account “we get rid of most (if not all) of the nasty paradoxes that have plagued traditional deontic logic.” But as was shown by van der Meyden in , Meyer’s logic also contains a paradoxical formula. In this paper we will show that another paradox can be proven, one which also effects Meyer’s “solution” to contrary to duty obligations and his (...) logic in general. (shrink)
This paper suggests that it should be possible to develop dynamic deontic logic as a counterpart to the very successful development of dynamic doxastic logic (or dynamic epistemic logic, as it is more often called). The ambition, arrived at towards the end of the paper, is to give formal representations of agentive concepts such as “the agent is about to do (has just done) α ” as well as of deontic concepts such as “it is obligatory (permissible, forbidden) (...) for the agent to do α ”, where α stands for an action (event). (shrink)
We develop a multi-agent deontic action logic to study the logical behaviour of two types of deontic conditionals: (1) conditional obligations, having the form "If group H were to perform action aH, then, in group F's interest, group G ought to perform action aG" and (2) conditional permissions, having the form "If group H were to perform action aH, then, in group F's interest, group G may perform action aG". First, we define a formal language for multi-agent (...) class='Hi'>deontic action logic and a class of consequentialist models to interpret the formulas of the language. Second, we define a transformation that converts any strategic game into a consequentialist model. Third, we show that an outcome a* is a Nash equilibrium of a strategic game if and only if a conjunction of certain conditional permissions is true in the consequentialist model that results from the transformation of that strategic game. (shrink)
If a native of India asserts "Killing cattle is wrong" and a Nebraskan asserts "Killing cattle is not wrong", and both judgments agree with their respective moralities and both moralities are internally consistent, then the moral relativist says both judgments are fully correct. At this point relativism bifurcates. One branch which we call content relativism denies that the two people are contradicting each other. The idea is that the content of a moral judgment is a function of the overall moral (...) point of view from which it proceeds. The second branch which we call truth value relativism affirms that the two judgments are contradictory. Truth value relativism appears to be logically incoherent. How can contradictory judgments be fully correct? For though there will be a sense of correctness in which each judgment is correct — namely by that of being correct relative to the morality relative to which each was expressed — if contradictory, the judgments cannot both be true, and thus cannot both be correct in this most basic sense of correctness. We defend truth value relativism against this sort of charge of logical incoherence by showing it can be accommodated by the existing semantical metatheories of deontic logic. Having done this we go on to argue that truth value relativism is the best version of relativism. (shrink)
In his original semantics for counterfactuals, David Lewis presupposed that the ordering of worlds relevant to the evaluation of a counterfactual admitted no incomparability between worlds. He later came to abandon this assumption. But the approach to incomparability he endorsed makes counterintuitive predictions about a class of examples circumscribed in this paper. The same underlying problem is present in the theories of modals and conditionals developed by Bas van Fraassen, Frank Veltman, and Angelika Kratzer. I show how to reformulate (...) all these theories in terms of lower bounds on partial preorders, conceived of as maximal antichains, and I show that treating lower bounds as cutsets does strictly better at capturing our intuitions about the semantics of modals, counterfactuals, and deontic conditionals. (shrink)
The ideal world semantics of standard deontic logic identifies our obligations with how we would act in an ideal world. However, to act as if one lived in an ideal world is bad moral advice, associated with wishful thinking rather than well-considered moral deliberation. Ideal world semantics gives rise to implausible logical principles, and the metaphysical arguments that have been put forward in its favour turn out to be based on a too limited view of truth-functional representation. It is (...) argued that ideal world semantics should be given up in favour of other, more plausible uses of possible worlds for modelling normative subject-matter. (shrink)
In 1926, Mally presented the first formal system of deontic logic. His system had several consequences which Mally regarded as surprising but defensible. It also, however, has the consequence that A is obligatory if and only if A is the case, which is unacceptable from the point of view of any reasonable deontic logic. We describe Mally's system and discuss how it might reasonably be repaired.
A range of extremely plausible moral principles turn out to generate “deontic cycling”: sets of actions wherein I have stronger reason to do B than A, C than B, and A than C. Indeed, just about anything recognizable as commonsense morality generates deontic cycling. This matters for two reasons. First, it creates a problem for the widely held view that agent-centered rankings can square consequentialism with commonsense morality. Second, it forces a choice between some deeply plausible views about (...) rationality—wherein someone cannot have stronger reason to do A than B, B than C, and C than A—and commonsense morality. (shrink)
This paper describes and compares the first step in modern semantic theory for deontic logic which appeared in works of Stig Kanger, Jaakko Hintikka, Richard Montague and Saul Kripke in late 50s and early 60s. Moreover, some further developments as well as systematizations are also noted.
Virtue and deontological ethics are now commonly contrasted as rival approaches to moral inquiry. However, I argue that neither metaethical party should seek complete, solitary domination of the ethical domain. Reductive treatments of the right or the virtuous, as well as projects that abandon the former or latter, are bound to leave us with a sadly diminished map of the moral territories crucial to our lives. Thus, it is better for the two parties to seek a more cordial and equal (...) relationship, one that permits metaethical pluralism, and acknowledges mutual dependence. I do not seek to prescribe how that relationship should look: this essay offers less a positive metaethical position than a prolegomenon to such a position, one that attempts to head off harmful attempts to reduce the territory of the aretaic to that of the deontic, or that of the deontic to the aretaic. (shrink)
I outline six components of a comprehensive proposal for overhauling the foundations of deontic logic. (1) Actions and prescriptions are temporally indexed; more precisely, they attach to nodes of a tree in a branching time structure. (2) Actions are (modeled as) sets of branches and can be coarse- or fine-grained depending on whether or not they have proper subsets which are also actions. (3) Prescriptions have satisfaction and violation sets; these are sets of branches which may—but need not—be or (...) include actions. (4) Prescriptive propositions, which state that an action is obligatory/permitted/forbidden according to a given prescription, are defined by relating the action with the satisfaction and violation sets of the prescription. (5) Conditional prescriptions can—but need not—be derived from unconditional or even from other conditional ones. (6) Thick prescriptions, in contrast to thin ones, prescribe or proscribe actions with varying intensities, and can have embedded subprescriptions (some of which are negative, namely “contraryto-duty”). Most of the above components are inspired by the literature, but their combination is novel. (shrink)
Situationist deontic logic is a model of that fraction of normative discourse which refers to only one situation and one set of alternatives. As we can see from a whole series of well-known paradoxes, standard deontic logic (SDL) is seriously mistaken even at the situationist level. In this paper it is shown how a more realistic deontic logic can be based on the assumption that prescriptive predicates satisfy the property of contranegativity. A satisfactory account of situation-specific norms (...) is a necessary prerequisite for a successful treatment of more complex normative structures. (shrink)
A new possible world semantics for deontic logic is proposed. Its intuitive basis is that prohibitive predicates (such as wrong and prohibited) have the property of negativity, i.e. that what is worse than something wrong is itself wrong. The logic of prohibitive predicates is built on this property and on preference logic. Prescriptive predicates are defined in terms of prohibitive predicates, according to the well-known formula ought = wrong that not. In this preference-based deontic logic (PDL), those theorems (...) that give rise to the paradoxes of standard deontic logic (SDL) are not obtained. (E.g., O(p & q) Op & Oq and Op O(p v q)) are theorems of SDL but not of PDL. The more plausible theorems of SDL, however, can be derived in PDL. (shrink)
There seems to be no clear consensus in the existing literature about the role of deontic logic in legal knowledge representation — in large part, we argue, because of an apparent misunderstanding of what deontic logic is, and a misplaced preoccupation with the surface formulation of legislative texts. Our aim in this paper is to indicate, first, which aspects of legal reasoning are addressed by deontic logic, and then to sketch out the beginnings of a methodology for (...) its use in the analysis and representation of law.The essential point for which we argue is that deontic logic — in some form or other —needs to be taken seriously whenever it is necessary to make explicit, and then reason about, the distinction between what ought to be the case and what is the case, or as we also say, between the ideal and the actual. We take the library regulations at Imperial College as the main illustration, and small examples from genuinely legal domains to introduce specific points. In conclusion, we touch on the role of deontic logic in the development of the theory of normative positions. (shrink)
In order to avoid the paradoxes of standard deontic logic, we have to give up the semantic construction that identifies obligatory status with presence in all elements of a subset of the set of possible worlds. It is proposed that deontic logic should instead be based on a preference relation, according to the principle that whatever is better than something permitted is itself permitted. Close connections hold between the logical properties of a preference relation and those of the (...)deontic logics that are derived from it in this way. The paradoxes of SDL can be avoided with this construction, but it is still an open question what type of preference relation is best suited to be used as a basis for deontic logic. (shrink)
In "Doing Well Enough: Toward a Logic for Common Sense Morality", Paul McNamara sets out a semantics for a deontic logic which contains the operator It is supererogatory that. As well as having a binary accessibility relation on worlds, that semantics contains a relative ordering relation, . For worlds u, v and w, we say that u w v when v is at least as good as u according to the standards of w. In this paper we axiomatize logics (...) complete over three versions of the semantics. We call the strongest of these logics DWE for Doing Well Enough. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to eÂ»tahlish some connections between precedent-based reasoning as it is studied in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Law, particularly in the work of Ashley, and two other fields: deontic logic and nonmonotonic logic. First, a deontic logic is described that allows lor sensible reasoning in the presence of conflicting norms. Second, a simplified version of Ashley's account of precedent-based reasoning is reformulated within the framework of this deontic logic. Finally, some (...) ideas from the theory of nonmonotonic inheritance are employed to show how Ashley's account might be elaborated to allow for a richer representation of the process of argumentation. (shrink)
In English, discourse reference to time involves grammatical tenses interpreted as temporal anaphors. Recently, it has been argued that conditionals involve modal discourse anaphora expressed by a parallel grammatical system of anaphoric modals. Based on evidence from Kalaallisut, this paper argues that temporal and modal anaphora can be just as precise in a language that does not have either grammatical category. Instead, temporal anaphora directly targets eventualities of verbs, without mediating tenses, while modal anaphora involves anaphoric moods and/or attitudinal (...) verbs. (shrink)
Some requirements concerning deontic logic are formulated and discussed. Stress is laid on the need to distinguish between theories and deductive systems. It is argued that deontic theories need not be closed under the rule of detachment. Two deontic calculi, called DSC1, DSC2, are presented and talked over.
Deontic reasoning is reasoning about permission and obligation: what one may do and what one must do, respectively. Conceivably, people could reason about deontic matters using a purely formal deontic calculus. I review evidence from a range of psychological experiments suggesting that this is not the case. Instead, I argue that deontic reasoning is supported by a collection of dissociable cognitive adaptations for solving adaptive problems that likely would have confronted ancestral humans.
Some people approve of certain general rules of behavior, or some concrete cases. The others disapprove of or are indifferent to them. In this paper I suggest an axiom system which formalizes the use of these utterances. It may be considered as a special (individualistic) approach to deontic logic.
Most of the papers in this collection are from the First International Workshop on Deontic Logic in Computer Science, DEON91, held in Amsterdam in December 1991. AI (especially AI and law, and knowledge representation) and formal system specification are the computer science communities that would seem to be most interested. In fact, this reviewer, a researcher in AI, was surprised to find common ground with a visiting researcher in distributed systems by discussing the contents of this book: he being (...) in the same field as Wieringa, and I being in the same field as Meyer. (shrink)
In a series of recent articles Angelika Kratzer has argued that the standard account of modality along Kripkean lines is inadequate in order to represent context-dependent modals. In particular she argues that the standard account is unable to deliver a non-trivial account of modality capable of overcoming inconsistencies of the underlying conversational background.
This multiplex semantics incorporates multiple relations of deontic accessibility or multiple preference rankings on alternative worlds to represent distinct normative standards. This provides a convenient framework for deontic logic that allows conflicts of obligation, due either to conflicts between normative standards or to incoherence within a single standard. With the multiplex structures, two general senses of "ought" may be distinguished, an indefinite sense under which something is obligatory when it is enjoined by some normative standard and a core (...) sense for when something is enjoined by all normative standards. Multiple normative standards may themselves be given a preferential order; this leads to a concept of ranked obligation. This paper presents the foundations of this multiplex semantics and the propositional deontic logics they define. (shrink)
According to operator theories, "if" denotes a two-place operator. According to restrictor theories, "if" doesn't contribute an operator of its own but instead merely restricts the domain of some co-occurring quantifier. The standard arguments (Lewis 1975, Kratzer 1986) for restrictor theories have it that operator theories (but not restrictor theories) struggle to predict the truth conditions of quantified conditionals like -/- (1) a. If John didn't work at home, he usually worked in his office. b. If John didn't work at (...) home, he must have worked in his office. -/- Gillies (2010) offers a context-shifty conditional operator theory that predicts the right truth conditions for epistemically modalized conditionals like (1b), thus undercutting one standard argument for restrictor theories. I explore how we might generalize Gillies' theory to adverbially quantified conditionals like (1a) and deontic conditionals, and argue that a natural generalization of Gillies' theory -- following his strategy for handling epistemically modalized conditionals -- won't work for these other conditionals because a crucial assumption that epistemic modal bases are closed (used to neutralize the epistemic quantification contributed by "if") doesn't have plausible analogs in these other domains. (shrink)
Power has been studied in various guises in both the social cognition and the reasoning literatures. In this paper, three experiments are reported in which this factor was investigated in the domain of deontic thinking. Power of source of deontic statements was varied within several scenarios, and participants judged the degree to which they thought an injunction would be carried out. In the first experiment, permission statements were used, and it was found that, as predicted, power was positively (...) related to degree of endorsement of deontic conclusions across scenarios. In the second experiment, these findings were generalised across three further deontic domains (threat, warning, and promise) and two different syntactic forms (conjunctive and disjunctive). In the third experiment, the hypothesis that power effects were mediated by subjective judgements of conditional probability was investigated and confirmed. It is argued that these results favour theories that give a general role to probabilistic factors, rather than those based on domain-specific schemas. (shrink)
Some philosophers have developed comprehensive interactive models that purport to exhibit the various normative constraints that agents need to adopt in order to achieve what otherwise would be an unattainable and unsustainable social order. Robert Brandom’s semantic inferentialism purports to show how a rational construction of social coordination is enacted and maintained through specific mappings that agents make of each other’s commitments (beliefs) and entitlements (justified beliefs). Strongly influenced by Brandom’s account, Joseph Heath reconstructs a number of historically emergent (...) class='Hi'>deontic constraints that solve what are otherwise unsolvable game-theoretic problems in the maintenance of the social order. But both accounts omit a sufficient analysis of the way in which individual agents, who comprise the normative order, are effectively addressed by norms when they act. How does an agent, who is facing a unique interactive situation with more than one normative path to choose, make a decision? One solution, attractive to some continental thinkers, is to appeal to an innate irrational component of decision-making that lies outside of rational bounds (e.g., Nietzsche’s will to power or Adorno’s das Hinzutrentende). The model I will defend lies in an existential account of agency that occupies a middle ground between a pure naturalism (where instinct dominates) and a pure regularism, or “normativism” (where reason dominates). The existential model asserts that the given normative field within which an agent operates conditions the formation of the agent’s intention to act but does not determine the effecting of an action as such — whether individual or collective. On this model, the specification of the acting or not acting on the normative intention is determined only retrospectively on the basis of what the agent actually did in a way that is in principle public and observable. Thus the content of the agency can be reconstructed only historically. The embodied character of the agent is what makes the action relatable to the sum of conditions that were co-determinative of the action at the time it occurred. The advantage of this view is that it does not overreach the highly limited access that we have to the inner workings of intentions to act while at the same time providing an account of agency independent of simply the agent’s relation to norms. (shrink)
“Counterfactual” readings of might/could have were previously analyzed using metaphysical modal bases. This paper presents examples and scenarios where the assumptions of such a branching-time semantics are not met, because there are facts at the base world that preclude the complement of the modal becoming true. Additional arguments show that counterfactual readings are context dependent. These data motivate a semantics using a circumstantial (or factual) modal base, which refers to context-dependent facts about a world and time. The analysis is formulated (...) in a version of premise semantics for modality. (shrink)
The paper discusses the potential value of a deontic approach to database specification. More specifically, some different types of integrity constraints are considered and a distinction is drawn between necessary (hard) and deontic (soft) constraints.Databases are compared with other normative systems. A deontic logic for database specification is proposed and the problems of how to react to, and of how to correct, or repair, a situation which arises through norm violation are discussed in the context of this (...) logic. The limitations of the proposed logic and possible modifications and extensions of it are analysed. (shrink)
Eventualities and worlds are analysed uniformly as schedules of certain descriptions of eventuality-types (reversing the reduction of eventuality-types to eventualities). The temporal interpretation of modals in Condoravdi 2002 is reformulated to bring out what it is about eventualities and worlds that is essential to the account. What is essential, it is claimed, can be recovered from schedules that may or may not include worlds.
When a conflict of duties arises, a resolution is often sought by use of an ordering of priority or importance. This paper examines how such a conflict resolution works, compares mechanisms that have been proposed in the literature, and gives preference to one developed by Brewka and Nebel. I distinguish between two cases – that some conflicts may remain unresolved, and that a priority ordering can be determined that resolves all – and provide semantics and axiomatic systems for accordingly defined (...) dyadic deontic operators. (shrink)
RESUMEN: La tesis según la cual el significado es normativo ha recibido diferentes formulaciones. En § 2 se introducen dos clases de formulaciones: las que emplean conceptos evaluativos y las que emplean conceptos deónticos. En § 3 se examinan las objeciones recientes de Hattiangadi a la posibilidad de una formulación en términos prescriptivos. § 4 contiene un intento de formular la tesis de la normatividad por medio de una regla en la que se emplean los conceptos deónticos de permisión y (...) prohibición. En § 5 se hacen algunos comentarios breves sobre la regla propuesta.ABSTRACT: The thesis that meaning is normative has been stated in different terms. In § 2 two kinds of formulations are introduced: those that deploy evaluative concepts and those that deploy deontic concepts. In § 3 the recent objections of Hattiangadi to the possibilility of a formulation in prescriptive terms are examined. § 4 contains an attempt to formulate the normativity thesis by means of a rule in which the deontic concepts of permission and prohibition are deployed. In § 5 some brief commentaries on the proposed rule are made. (shrink)
The chief aim of the paper is to extend the calculusDSC 1 (see ) in such a way as to satisfy all the requirements listed in  as well as a further stipulation — called the principle of uninvolvement — to the effect that neither deontic compatibility nor deontic incompatibility of codes (see ) should be presupposed in deontic logic.
Taking a Darwinian approach, we propose that people reason to detect free-riders on the Wason Selection task with the sharing-rule; If one receives the resource, one is an in-group member (standard), or If one is an in-group member, one receives the resource (switched). As predicted, taking the resource-provider's perspective, both undergraduates and children (11 to 12 years old) checked for the existence of out-group members taking undeserved resource. Changing the perspective to that of the resource-recipient did not alter the selection (...) pattern in undergraduates, although the prediction was that another type of free-riding -failure to share by resource-provider- would be checked as well. However, by removing confounding factors in the materials, both undergraduates and children checked for both types of free-riding, which fully supports the prediction. These results indicate that the sharing-rule elicits a thematic content effect that cannot be explained by preceding deontic reasoning theories. (shrink)
We investigate an extension of the formalism of interpreted systems by Halpern and colleagues to model the correct behaviour of agents. The semantical model allows for the representation and reasoning about states of correct and incorrect functioning behaviour of the agents, and of the system as a whole. We axiomatise this semantic class by mapping it into a suitable class of Kripke models. The resulting logic, KD45n i-j, is a stronger version of KD, the system often referred to as Standard (...)Deontic Logic. We extend this formal framework to include the standard epistemic notions defined on interpreted systems, and introduce a new doubly-indexed operator representing the knowledge that an agent would have if it operates under the assumption that a group of agents is functioning correctly. We discuss these issues both theoretically and in terms of applications, and present further directions of work. (shrink)
We propose that the pragmatic factors that mediate everyday deduction, such as alternative and disabling conditions (e.g. Cummins et al., 1991) and additional requirements (Byrne, 1989) exert their effects on specific inferences because of their perceived relevance to more general principles, which we term SuperPs. Support for this proposal was found first in two causal inference experiments, in which it was shown that specific inferences were mediated by factors that are relevant to a more general principle, while the same inferences (...) were unaffected by factors not relevant to the general principle. These results were extended to deontic inferences in two further experiments. Taken together, these findings show that unstated superordinate principles play a significant role in certain types of reasoning. Questions raised by the findings for the main theoretical approaches are discussed. (shrink)
The deontic model of justice and ethical behavior proposes that people care about justice simply for the sake of justice. This is an important consideration for business ethics because it implies that justice and ethical behavior are naturally occurring phenomenaindependent of system controls or individual self-interest. To date, research on the deontic model and third-party reactions to injustice has focused primarily on individuals’ tendency to punish transgressors. This research has revealed that witnesses to injustice will consider sacrificing their (...) own resources if it is the only way to sanction an observed transgressor. In this paper we seek to extend this model by arguing that punishment may not be the only “deontic” reaction, and that in fact, third-party observers of injustice may engage in moral self-regulation that would lead them to conclude that the most ethical response is to do nothing. We provide preliminary evidence for our propositions using voiced cognitions data collected during a resource allocation task. Results indicate that deonance may be more complex than originally thought, and previous tests of the model conservative in nature. (shrink)
The logic of an ought operator O is contranegative with respect to an underlying preference relation if it satisfies the property Op & (¬p)(¬q) Oq. Here the condition that is interpolative ((p (pq) q) (q (pq) p)) is shown to be necessary and sufficient for all -contranegative preference relations to satisfy the plausible deontic postulates agglomeration (Op & OqO(p&q)) and disjunctive division (O(p&q) Op Oq).
Traditional moral theories appear to be unable to give a credible account of the relationship between deontic and axiological concepts, i.e. duty and value. Of the two traditional solutions to this problem, one emphasises the independence of the two realms, whereas Mill argues that duty is definable in terms of goodness. In this paper I present Meinong's Law of Omission which offers, in my opinion, a promising alternative to these two traditional views.