What Are We to Do? Making Sense of 'Joint Ought' Talk

Philosophical Studies (forthcoming)
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We argue for three main claims. First, the sentence ‘A and B ought to φ and ψ’ can express what we a call a joint-ought claim: the claim that the plurality A and B ought to φ and ψ respectively. Second, the truth-value of this joint-ought claim can differ from the truth-value of the pair of claims ‘A ought to φ’ and ‘B ought to ψ.’ This is because what A and B jointly ought to do can diverge from what they individually ought to do: it may be true that A and B jointly ought to φ and ψ respectively, yet false that A ought to φ and false that B ought to ψ; and vice-versa. Third, either of two prominent semantic analyses of ‘ought’ – Mark Schroeder’s relational semantics, and Angelika Kratzer’s modal semantics – can model joint-ought claims and this difference in truth-value.



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Author Profiles

Rowan Mellor
Northwestern University
Margaret Shea
Princeton University

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References found in this work

Rationality Through Reasoning.John Broome (ed.) - 2013 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
The Nature of Normativity.Ralph Wedgwood - 2007 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Opting for the Best: Oughts and Options.Douglas W. Portmore - 2019 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
Utopophobia: On the Limits (If Any) of Political Philosophy.David M. Estlund - 2019 - Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

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