Imperative change and obligation to do

In Krister Segerberg & Rysiek Sliwinski (eds.), Logic, Law, Morality: Thirteen Essays in Practical Philosophy in Honour of Lennart Åqvist. Uppsala: Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University. pp. 79-95 (2003)
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The ambition of the paper is to provide a solution to the problem posed by Von Wright (1999): how is it possible that the two actions, one of producing P and the other of preventing P can have different deontic status, the former being obligatory and the latter being forbidden. The solution for the problem is sought for by an investigation into connections between imperative and deontic logic. First, it is asked whether a solution could be found in Lemmon's (1965) system of "change logic", using his idea on connection between logic of orders being in force and deontic logic. The answer is the negative one. Next, the connection between Lemmon's imperative logic and deontic logic given in Aqvist's paper - "Next" and "Ought" (1965) - is analyzed. Than, the Lemmon's treatment of imperatives is restricted to the natural language imperatives and Aqvist's way of connecting imperative and deontic logic is modified accordingly. Some principles for the natural language imperatives are established (the negation rule ; the law of contraposition for imperative conditionals) and a simple "global" semantics is developed. The notion of "opposite action" is introduced and it is given an important role in semantics. Finally, a solution for von Wright's problem is given. In the closing sections some further topics for investigation are hinted: one of them being the connection between Aqvist's epistemic- imperative conception of interrogatives and "epistemic obligations", the other being formalization of the idea that imperatives create and re-create obligation patterns that can be described in deontic terms.

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Berislav Žarnić
University Zagreb


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