Leda Cosmides and John Tooby have some advice for moral philosophers and deontic logicians trying to understand deontic notions like ought: give up trying to provide a univocal, domain-general treatment. The domain-specific character of human cognition means that such a research program is probably fruitless and probably pointless. It is probably fruitless, since a univocal account of the meaning of "ought" will not capture the multiple inferential patterns of deontic reasoning exhibited in different contexts (and similarly for lots of other words like "obligation," "entitlement," etc. - but let’s stick with "ought"). And it is probably pointless, because even if a domain general logic can be developed, it will "fail to capture major distinctions the human mind makes when reasoning deontically" (ms 5). As a result, it is "not likely to be widely understood and adopted" so it will "not succeed in guiding ethical decisions beyond an esoteric circle of specialists" (ms 5).
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