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Two puzzles about deontic necessity

In J. Gajewski, V. Hacquard, B. Nickel & S. Yalcin (eds.), New Work on Modality, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics (2005)

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  1. Imperatives and Modals.Paul Portner - 2007 - Natural Language Semantics 15 (4):351-383.
    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 (...)
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  • VI-BayesianExpressivism.Seth Yalcin - 2012 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 112 (2pt2):123-160.
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  • Epistemic Modality De Re.Seth Yalcin - 2015 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 2:475-527.
    Focusing on cases which involve binding into epistemic modals with definite descriptions and quantifiers, I raise some new problems for standard approaches to all of these expressions. The difficulties are resolved in a semantic framework that is dynamic in character. I close with a new class of problems about de re readings within the scope of modals.
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  • Two puzzles about ability can.Malte Willer - 2020 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (3):551-586.
    The received wisdom on ability modals is that they differ from their epistemic and deontic cousins in what inferences they license and better receive a universal or conditional analysis instead of an existential one. The goal of this paper is to sharpen the empirical picture about the semantics of ability modals, and to propose an analysis that explains what makes the can of ability so special but that also preserves the crucial idea that all uses of can share a common (...)
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  • Practical Commitment in Normative Discourse.Pekka Vayrynen - 2022 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 21 (2).
    Many normative judgments play a practical role in our thought. This paper concerns how their practical role is reflected in language. It is natural to wonder whether the phenomenon is semantic or pragmatic. The standard assumption in moral philosophy is that at least terms which can be used to express “thin” normative concepts – such as 'good', 'right', and 'ought' – are associated with certain practical roles somehow as a matter of meaning. But this view is rarely given explicit defense (...)
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  • Ought and agency.Daniel Skibra - 2022 - Synthese 200 (5):1-40.
    A thorny question surrounding the meaning of ought concerns a felt distinction between deontic uses of ought that seem to evaluate a state of affairs versus those that seem to describe a requirement or obligation to perform an action, as in and, respectively. There ought not be childhood death and disease. You ought to keep that promise. Various accounts have been offered to explain the contrast between “agentive” and “non-agentive” ought sentences. One such account is the Agency-in-the-Prejacent theory, which traces (...)
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  • Commitment and states of mind with mood and modality.Alex Silk - 2018 - Natural Language Semantics 26 (2):125-166.
    This paper develops an account of mood selection with attitude predicates in French. I start by examining the “contextual commitment” account of mood developed by Portner and Rubinstein Proceedings of SALT 22, CLC Publications, Ithaca, NY, pp 461–487, 2012). A key innovation of Portner and Rubinstein’s account is to treat mood selection as fundamentally depending on a relation between individuals’ attitudes and the predicate’s modal backgrounds. I raise challenges for P&R’s qualitative analysis of contextual commitment and explanations of mood selection. (...)
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  • Imperatives as semantic primitives.Rosja Mastop - 2011 - Linguistics and Philosophy 34 (4):305-340.
    This paper concerns the formal semantic analysis of imperative sentences. It is argued that such an analysis cannot be deferred to the semantics of propositions, under any of the three commonly adopted strategies: the performative analysis, the sentence radical approach to propositions, and the (nondeclarative) mood-as-operator approach. Whereas the first two are conceptually problematic, the third faces empirical problems: various complex imperatives should be analysed in terms of semantic operators over simple imperatives. One particularly striking case is the Dutch pluperfect (...)
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  • Pejoratives & Oughts.Teresa Marques - 2021 - Philosophia 49 (3):1109-1125.
    Chris Hom argued that slurs and pejoratives semantically express complex negative prescriptive properties, which are determined in virtue of standing in external causal relations to social ideologies and practices. He called this view Combinatorial Externalism. Additionally, he argued that Combinatorial Externalism entailed that slurs and pejoratives have null extensions. In this paper, I raise an objection that has not been raised in the literature so far. I argue that semantic theories like Hom’s are forced to choose between two alternatives: either (...)
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  • Practical Moore Sentences.Matthew Mandelkern - 2019 - Noûs 55 (1):39-61.
    I discuss what I call practical Moore sentences: sentences like ‘You must close your door, but I don’t know whether you will’, which combine an order together with an avowal of agnosticism about whether the order will be obeyed. I show that practical Moore sentences are generally infelicitous. But this infelicity is surprising: it seems like there should be nothing wrong with giving someone an order while acknowledging that you do not know whether it will obeyed. I suggest that this (...)
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  • Agentive Duality reconsidered.Annina Loets & Julia Zakkou - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (12):3771-3789.
    A growing consensus in the literature on agentive modals has it that ability modals like ‘can’ or ‘able to’ have a _dual_, i.e. interpretations of ‘must’ or ‘cannot but’ which stand to _necessity_ as ability stands to _possibility_. We argue that this thesis (which we call ‘Agentive Duality’) is much more controversial than meets the eye. While Agentive Duality follows from the orthodox possibility analysis of ability given natural assumptions, it sits uneasily with a wide range of alternative proposals which (...)
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  • Free choice is a form of dependence.Magdalena Kaufmann - 2016 - Natural Language Semantics 24 (3):247-290.
    This paper refutes the widespread view that disjunctions of imperatives invariably grant free choice between the actions named by their disjuncts. Like other disjunctions they can also express a correlation with some factual distinction, but as with modalized declaratives used for non-assertive speech acts this needs to be indicated explicitly. A compositional analysis of one such indicator, depending on, constitutes the point of departure for a uniform analysis of disjunctions across clause types. Disjunctions are analyzed as sets of propositional alternatives (...)
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  • Regulative Rules: A Distinctive Normative Kind.Reiland Indrek - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    What are rules? In this paper I develop a view of regulative rules which takes them to be a distinctive normative kind occupying a middle ground between orders and normative truths. The paradigmatic cases of regulative rules that I’m interested in are social rules like rules of etiquette and legal rules like traffic rules. On the view I’ll propose, a rule is a general normative content that is in force due to human activity: enactment by an authority or acceptance by (...)
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  • Obligation and Aspect.Benj Hellie - 2016 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (4):398-449.
    ‘Fred must open the door’ concerns Fred’s obligations. This obligative meaning is turned off by adding aspect: ‘Fred must have opened/be opening/have been opening the door’ are one and all epistemic. Why? In a nutshell: obligative ’must’ operates on procedural contents of imperative sentences, epistemic ‘must’ on propositional contents of declarative sentences; and adding aspect converts procedural into propositional content.
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  • On the interaction of aspect and modal auxiliaries.Valentine Hacquard - 2009 - Linguistics and Philosophy 32 (3):279-315.
    This paper discusses the interaction of aspect and modality, and focuses on the puzzling implicative effect that arises when perfective aspect appears on certain modals: perfective somehow seems to force the proposition expressed by the complement of the modal to hold in the actual world, and not merely in some possible world. I show that this puzzling behavior, originally discussed in Bhatt (1999, Covert modality in non-finite contexts) for the ability modal, extends to all modal auxiliaries with a circumstantial modal (...)
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  • Deontic Logic and Normative Systems.Olivier Roy, Allard Tamminga & Malte Willer (eds.) - 2016 - London, UK: College Publications.
    The biennial DEON conferences are designed to promote interdisciplinary cooperation amongst scholars interested in linking the formal-logical study of normative concepts and normative systems with computer science, artificial intelligence, linguistics, philosophy, organization theory and law. In addition to these general themes, DEON 2016 encouraged a special focus on the topic "Reasons, Argumentation and Justification.".
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  • ‘Ought’ and Control.Matthew Chrisman - 2012 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3):433-451.
    Ethical theorists often assume that the verb ‘ought’ means roughly ‘has an obligation’; however, this assumption is belied by the diversity of ‘flavours’ of ought-sentences in English. A natural response is that ‘ought’ is ambiguous. However, this response is incompatible with the standard treatment of ‘ought’ by theoretical semanticists, who classify ‘ought’ as a member of the family of modal verbs, which are treated uniformly as operators. To many ethical theorists, however, this popular treatment in linguistics seems to elide an (...)
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  • What we know and what to do.Nate Charlow - 2013 - Synthese 190 (12):2291-2323.
    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 (...)
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  • Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 9.Emar Maier, Corien Bary & Janneke Huitink (eds.) - 2005 - Nijmegen Centre for Semantics.
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  • Abilities.John Maier - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    In the accounts we give of one another, claims about our abilities appear to be indispensable. Some abilities are so widespread that many who have them take them for granted, such as the ability to walk, or to write one's name, or to tell a hawk from a handsaw. Others are comparatively rare and notable, such as the ability to hit a Major League fastball, or to compose a symphony, or to tell an elm from a beech. In either case, (...)
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  • Putting Oughts Together.David Boylan - 2023 - Semantics and Pragmatics 16.
    Consistent Agglomeration says that, when φ and ψ are consistent, ⌜ought φ ⌝ and ⌜ought ψ⌝ entail ⌜ought (φ ∧ ψ)⌝; I argue this principle is valid for deontic, but not epistemic oughts. I argue no existing theory predicts these data and give a new semantics and pragmatics for ought: ought is an existential quantifier over the best partial answers to some background question; and presupposes that those best partial answers are pairwise consistent. In conjunction with a plausible assumption about (...)
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  • Metasemantic Quandaries.Nate Charlow - 2022 - In Billy Dunaway & David Plunkett (eds.), Meaning, Decision, and Norms: Themes from the Work of Allan Gibbard. Ann Arbor: Maize Books. pp. 171-202.
    This paper advocates a generalized form of Expressivism, as a strategy for resolving certain metasemantic puzzles about identifying the semantic value of a context-sensitive expression in context. According to this form of Expressivism, speakers express properties of semantic parameters, and they do so in order to proffer those properties for cognitive adoption (acceptance) by their addressees. Puzzles arising from the pressure to say what a putatively context-sensitive expression refers to or denotes in contexts that do not seem to specify a (...)
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  • Thinking Together: Advising as Collaborative Deliberation.Joshua Habgood-Coote - forthcoming - Philosophers' Imprint.
    We spend a good deal of time thinking about how and when to advise others, and how to respond to other people advising us. However, philosophical discussions of the nature and norms advising have been scattered and somewhat disconnected. The most focused discussion has come from philosophers of language interested in whether advising is a kind of assertive or directive kind of speech act. This paper argues that the ordinary category of advising is much more heterogenous than has been appreciated: (...)
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  • Weak and Strong Necessity Modals: On Linguistic Means of Expressing "A Primitive Concept OUGHT".Alex Silk - 2022 - In Billy Dunaway & David Plunkett (eds.), Meaning, Decision, and Norms: Themes from the Work of Allan Gibbard. pp. 203-245.
    This paper develops an account of the meaning of `ought', and the distinction between weak necessity modals (`ought', `should') and strong necessity modals (`must', `have to'). I argue that there is nothing specially ``strong'' about strong necessity modals per se: uses of `Must p' predicate the (deontic/epistemic/etc.) necessity of the prejacent p of the actual world (evaluation world). The apparent ``weakness'' of weak necessity modals derives from their bracketing whether the necessity of the prejacent is verified in the actual world. (...)
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  • Deontic Logic and Natural Language.Fabrizio Cariani - forthcoming - In Dov Gabbay, Ron van der Meyden, John Horty, Xavier Parent & Leandert van der Torre (eds.), The Handbook of Deontic Logic (Vol. II). College Publications.
    There has been a recent surge of work on deontic modality within philosophy of language. This work has put the deontic logic tradition in contact with natural language semantics, resulting in significant increase in sophistication on both ends. This chapter surveys the main motivations, achievements, and prospects of this work.
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  • Assertion and Modality.Fabrizio Cariani - 2020 - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 505-528.
    This essay is an opinionated exploration of the constraints that modal discourse imposes on the theory of assertion. Primary focus is on the question whether modal discourse challenges the traditional view that all assertions have propositional content. This question is tackled largely with reference to discourse involving epistemic modals, although connections with other flavors of modality are noted along the way.
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  • The Duality of Moral Language : On Hybrid Theories in Metaethics.Stina Björkholm - 2022 - Dissertation, Stockholm University
    Moral language displays a characteristic duality. On the one hand, moral claims seem to be similar to descriptive claims: To say that an act is right seems to be a matter of making an assertion, thus indicating that the speaker has a moral belief about which she can be correct or mistaken. On the other hand, moral claims seem to be different from descriptive claims: There is a sense in which, by claiming that an act is right, a speaker indicates (...)
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  • Deontic Modals.Jennifer Carr - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 194-210.
    This chapter provides a selective survey of prominent theories of the semantics of deontic modals in logic and natural language. We focus on Kratzer’s (1977; 1981; 1991) semantics and extensions to this analysis. Kratzer’s semantics has been far and away the most influential theory of deontic modals, which provide a base case for the interpretation of normative language in general. Understanding the logic and truth-conditions of normative language is one of the core areas of metaethics. It informs our understanding of (...)
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  • Practical Language: Its Meaning and Use.Nathan A. Charlow - 2011 - Dissertation, University of Michigan
    I demonstrate that a "speech act" theory of meaning for imperatives is—contra a dominant position in philosophy and linguistics—theoretically desirable. A speech act-theoretic account of the meaning of an imperative !φ is characterized, broadly, by the following claims. -/- LINGUISTIC MEANING AS USE !φ’s meaning is a matter of the speech act an utterance of it conventionally functions to express—what a speaker conventionally uses it to do (its conventional discourse function, CDF). -/- IMPERATIVE USE AS PRACTICAL !φ's CDF is to (...)
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  • Deontic logic as a study of conditions of rationality in norm-related activities.Berislav Žarnić - 2016 - In Olivier Roy, Allard Tamminga & Malte Willer (eds.), Deontic Logic and Normative Systems. College Publications. pp. 272-287.
    The program put forward in von Wright's last works defines deontic logic as ``a study of conditions which must be satisfied in rational norm-giving activity'' and thus introduces the perspective of logical pragmatics. In this paper a formal explication for von Wright's program is proposed within the framework of set-theoretic approach and extended to a two-sets model which allows for the separate treatment of obligation-norms and permission norms. The three translation functions connecting the language of deontic logic with the language (...)
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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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  • Imperative Statics and Dynamics.Nate Charlow - manuscript
    Imperatives are linguistic devices used by an authority (speaker) to express wishes, requests, commands, orders, instructions, and suggestions to a subject (addressee). This essay's goal is to tentatively address some of the following questions about the imperative. -/- METASEMANTIC. What is the menu of options for understanding fundamental semantic notions like satisfaction, truth-conditions, validity, and entailment in the context of imperatives? Are there good imperative arguments, and, if so, how are they to be characterized? What are the options for understanding (...)
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  • Rationalization and the Ross Paradox.Benj Hellie - 2016 - In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press. pp. 283--323.
    'Post this letter!' does not entail 'Post this letter or drink up my wine!' (the Ross Paradox) because one can be in a state with the content of the former without being in a state with the content of the latter; in turn, because the latter can rationalize drinking up my wine but the former cannot; in turn, because practical rationalization flows toward one's present situation, in contrast with the flow of theoretical rationalization from one's present situation. Formally, this is (...)
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  • Imperatives and Tense.Magdalena Schwager - 2011 - In Renate Musan & Monika Rathert (eds.), Tense Across Languages. Niemeyer. pp. 541--37.
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  • Dynamic Expressivism about Deontic Modality.William B. Starr - 2016 - In Nate Charlow Matthew Chrisman (ed.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press. pp. 355-394.
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