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Contextualist Solutions to Three Puzzles about Practical Conditionals

In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, volume 7. Oxford University Press (2012)

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  1. ‘Ought’-Contextualism Beyond the Parochial.Alex Worsnip - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (11):3099-3119.
    Despite increasing prominence, ‘ought’-contextualism is regarded with suspicion by most metaethicists. As I’ll argue, however, contextualism is a very weak claim, that every metaethicist can sign up to. The real controversy concerns how contextualism is developed. I then draw an oft-overlooked distinction between “parochial” contextualism—on which the contextually-relevant standards are those that the speaker, or others in her environment, subscribe to—and “aspirational” contextualism—on which the contextually-relevant standards are the objective standards for the relevant domain. However, I argue that neither view (...)
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  • How to Pull a Metaphysical Rabbit Out of an End-Relational Semantic Hat.Nicholas Laskowski - 2014 - Res Philosophica 91 (4):589-607.
    Analytic reductivism in metaethics has long been out of philosophical vogue. In Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normativity (2014), Stephen Finlay tries to resuscitate it by developing an analytic metaethical reductive naturalistic semantics for ‘good.’ He argues that an end-relational semantics is the simplest account that can explain all of the data concerning the term, and hence the most plausible theory of it. I argue that there are several assumptions that a reductive naturalist would need to make about contextual (...)
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  • Skepticism About Ought Simpliciter.Derek Baker - 2018 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 13.
    There are many different oughts. There is a moral ought, a prudential ought, an epistemic ought, the legal ought, the ought of etiquette, and so on. These oughts can prescribe incompatible actions. What I morally ought to do may be different from what I self-interestedly ought to do. Philosophers have claimed that these conflicts are resolved by an authoritative ought, or by facts about what one ought to do simpliciter or all-things-considered. However, the only coherent notion of an ought simpliciter (...)
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  • Semantic with Assignment Variables.Alex Silk - forthcoming - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    This manuscript develops a framework for compositional semantics and begins illustrating its fruitfulness by applying it to a spectrum of core linguistic data, such as with quantifiers, attitude ascriptions, relative clauses, conditionals, and questions. A key innovation is to introduce variables for assignment functions into the syntax; semantic values are treated systematically in terms of sets of assignments, theoretically interpreted as representing possibilities. The framework provides an alternative to traditional “context- index”-style frameworks descending from Kamp/Kaplan/Lewis/Stalnaker. A principal feature of the (...)
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  • Dynamic Thoughts on Ifs and Oughts.Malte Willer - 2014 - Philosophers' Imprint 14:1-30.
    A dynamic semantics for iffy oughts offers an attractive alternative to the folklore that Chisholm's paradox enforces an unhappy choice between the intuitive inference rules of factual and deontic detachment. The first part of the story told here shows how a dynamic theory about ifs and oughts gives rise to a nonmonotonic perspective on deontic discourse and reasoning that elegantly removes the air of paradox from Chisholm's puzzle without sacrificing any of the two detachment principles. The second part of the (...)
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  • Deontic Modals and Probability: One Theory to Rule Them All?Fabrizio Cariani - forthcoming - In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press.
    This paper motivates and develops a novel semantic framework for deontic modals. The framework is designed to shed light on two things: the relationship between deontic modals and substantive theories of practical rationality and the interaction of deontic modals with conditionals, epistemic modals and probability operators. I argue that, in order to model inferential connections between deontic modals and probability operators, we need more structure than is provided by classical intensional theories. In particular, we need probabilistic structure that interacts directly (...)
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  • An Update on Epistemic Modals.Malte Willer - 2015 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 44 (6):835–849.
    Epistemic modals are a prominent topic in the literature on natural language semantics, with wide-ranging implications for issues in philosophy of language and philosophical logic. Considerations about the role that epistemic "might" and "must" play in discourse and reasoning have led to the development of several important alternatives to classical possible worlds semantics for natural language modal expressions. This is an opinionated overview of what I take to be some of the most exciting issues and developments in the field.
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  • Decision-Theoretic Relativity in Deontic Modality.Nate Charlow - 2018 - Linguistics and Philosophy 41 (3):251-287.
    This paper explores the idea that a semantics for ‘ought’ should be neutral between different ways of deciding what an agent ought to do in a situation. While the idea is, I argue, well-motivated, taking it seriously leads to surprising, even paradoxical, problems for theorizing about the meaning of ‘ought’. This paper describes and defends one strategy—a form of Expressivism for the modal ‘ought’—for navigating these problems.
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  • Normative Requirements and Contrary-to-Duty Obligations.Juan Comesaña - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy 112 (11):600-626.
    I argue that normative requirements should be interpreted as the conditional obligations of dyadic deontic logic. Semantically, normative requirements are conditionals understood as restrictors, the prevailing view of conditionals in linguistics. This means that Modus Ponens is invalid, even when the premises are known.
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  • Normativity in Language and Law.Alex Silk - forthcoming - In David Plunkett, Kevin Toh & Scott Shapiro (eds.), Dimensions of Normativity: New Essays on Metaethics and Jurisprudence. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter develops an account of the meaning and use of various types of legal claims, and uses this account to inform debates about the nature and normativity of law. The account draws on a general framework for implementing a contextualist theory, called 'Discourse Contextualism' (Silk 2016). The aim of Discourse Contextualism is to derive the apparent normativity of claims of law from a particular contextualist interpretation of a standard semantics for modals, along with general principles of interpretation and conversation. (...)
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  • Backtracking Counterfactuals Revisited.Justin Khoo - 2017 - Mind 126 (503):841-910.
    I discuss three observations about backtracking counterfactuals not predicted by existing theories, and then motivate a theory of counterfactuals that does predict them. On my theory, counterfactuals quantify over a suitably restricted set of historical possibilities from some contextually relevant past time. I motivate each feature of the theory relevant to predicting our three observations about backtracking counterfactuals. The paper concludes with replies to three potential objections.
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  • Narrow-Scoping for Wide-Scopers.Alex Worsnip - 2015 - Synthese 192 (8):2617-2646.
    Many philosophers think that requirements of rationality are “wide-scope”. That is to say: they are requirements to satisfy some material conditional, such that one counts as satisfying the requirement iff one either makes the conditional’s antecedent false or makes its consequent true. These contrast with narrow-scope requirements, where the requirement takes scope only over the consequent of the conditional. Many of the philosophers who have preferred wide-scope requirements to narrow-scope requirements have also endorsed a corresponding semantic claim, namely that ordinary (...)
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