Chisholm's Paradox and Conditional Oughts

Lecture Notes in Computer Science 8554:192-207 (2014)
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Abstract

Since it was presented in 1963, Chisholm’s paradox has attracted constant attention in the deontic logic literature, but without the emergence of any definitive solution. We claim this is due to its having no single solution. The paradox actually presents many challenges to the formalization of deontic statements, including (1) context sensitivity of unconditional oughts, (2) formalizing conditional oughts, and (3) distinguishing generic from nongeneric oughts. Using the practical interpretation of ‘ought’ as a guideline, we propose a linguistically motivated logical solution to each of these problems, and explain the relation of the solution to the problem of contrary-to-duty obligations.

Author Profiles

Catharine (Cat) Saint-Croix
University of Minnesota
Richmond Thomason
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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