Consequence and Contrast in Deontic Semantics

Journal of Philosophy 113 (8):396-416 (2016)
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Contrastivists view ought-sentences as expressing comparisons among alternatives. Deontic actualists believe that the value of each alternative in such a comparison is determined by what would actually happen if that alternative were to be the case. One of the arguments that motivates actualism is a challenge to the principle of agglomeration over conjunction—the principle according to which if you ought to run and you ought to jump, then you ought to run and jump. I argue that there is no way of developing the actualist insight into a logic that invalidates the agglomeration principle without also invalidating other desirable patterns of inference. After doing this, I extend the analysis to other contrastive views that challenge agglomeration in the way that the actualist does. This motivates skepticism about the actualist’s way of challenging agglomeration.

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Fabrizio Cariani
University of Maryland, College Park


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