Logic and Semantics for Imperatives

Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (4):617-664 (2014)
Authors
Nate Charlow
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Abstract
In this paper I will develop a view about the semantics of imperatives, which I term Modal Noncognitivism, on which imperatives might be said to have truth conditions (dispositionally, anyway), but on which it does not make sense to see them as expressing propositions (hence does not make sense to ascribe to them truth or falsity). This view stands against “Cognitivist” accounts of the semantics of imperatives, on which imperatives are claimed to express propositions, which are then enlisted in explanations of the relevant logico-semantic phenomena. It also stands against the major competitors to Cognitivist accounts—all of which are non-truth-conditional and, as a result, fail to provide satisfying explanations of the fundamental semantic characteristics of imperatives (or so I argue). The view of imperatives I defend here improves on various treatments of imperatives on the market in giving an empirically and theoretically adequate account of their semantics and logic. It yields explanations of a wide range of semantic and logical phenomena about imperatives—explanations that are, I argue, at least as satisfying as the sorts of explanations of semantic and logical phenomena familiar from truth-conditional semantics. But it accomplishes this while defending the notion—which is, I argue, substantially correct—that imperatives could not have propositions, or truth conditions, as their meanings.
Keywords Imperatives  Semantics of imperatives  Imperative logic  Deontic logic  Conditional imperatives  Noncognitivism  Expressivism
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DOI 10.1007/s10992-013-9284-4
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking How to Live.Allan Gibbard - 2003 - Harvard University Press.
Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Blackwell.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Problem with the Frege–Geach Problem.Nate Charlow - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):635-665.
Prospects for an Expressivist Theory of Meaning.Nate Charlow - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15:1-43.
Decision Theory: Yes! Truth Conditions: No!Nate Charlow - 2016 - In Nate Charlow Matthew Chrisman (ed.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press.
Speech Acts: The Contemporary Theoretical Landscape.Daniel W. Harris, Daniel Fogal & Matt Moss - forthcoming - In Daniel Fogal, Matt Moss & Daniel Harris (eds.), New Work on Speech Acts. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

View all 24 citations / Add more citations

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