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Alex Silk
University of Birmingham
  1. Theories of Vagueness and Theories of Law.Alex Silk - 2019 - Legal Theory 25 (2):132-152.
    It is common to think that what theory of linguistic vagueness is correct has implications for debates in philosophy of law. I disagree. I argue that the implications of particular theories of vagueness on substantive issues of legal theory and practice are less far-reaching than often thought. I focus on four putative implications discussed in the literature concerning (i) the value of vagueness in the law, (ii) the possibility and value of legal indeterminacy, (iii) the possibility of the rule of (...)
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  2.  45
    What Normative Terms Mean and Why It Matters for Ethical Theory.Alex Silk - 2015 - In Mark C. Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Vol. 5. pp. 296–325.
    This paper investigates how inquiry into normative language can improve substantive normative theorizing. First I examine two dimensions along which normative language differs: “strength” and “subjectivity.” Next I show how greater sensitivity to these features of the meaning and use of normative language can illuminate debates about three issues in ethics: the coherence of moral dilemmas, the possibility of supererogatory acts, and the connection between making a normative judgment and being motivated to act accordingly. The paper concludes with several brief (...)
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  3. Nietzsche and Contemporary Metaethics.Alex Silk - 2018 - In Paul Katsafanas (ed.), Routledge Philosophical Minds: The Nietzschean Mind. Routledge.
    Recent decades have witnessed a flurry of interest in Nietzsche's metaethics — his views, if any, on metaphysical, epistemological, semantic, and psychological issues about normativity and normative language and judgment. Various authors have highlighted a tension between Nietzsche's metaethical views about value and his ardent endorsement of a particular evaluative perspective: Although Nietzsche makes apparently "antirealist" claims to the effect that there are no evaluative facts, he vehemently engages in evaluative discourse and enjoins the "free spirits" to create values. Nearly (...)
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  4. Weak and Strong Necessity Modals: On Linguistic Means of Expressing "A Primitive Concept OUGHT".Alex Silk - forthcoming - In Meaning, Decision, and Norms: Themes from the Work of Allan Gibbard.
    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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  5.  45
    Expectation Biases and Context Management with Negative Polar Questions.Alex Silk - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Logic:1-42.
    This paper examines distinctive discourse properties of preposed negative 'yes/no' questions (NPQs), such as 'Isn’t Jane coming too?'. Unlike with other 'yes/no' questions, using an NPQ '∼p?' invariably conveys a bias toward a particular answer, where the polarity of the bias is opposite of the polarity of the question: using the negative question '∼p?' invariably expresses that the speaker previously expected the positive answer p to be correct. A prominent approach—what I call the context-management approach, developed most extensively by Romero (...)
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  6. Having It Both Ways: Hybrid Theories and Modern Metaethics1.Alex Silk - 2017 - Analysis 77 (1):197-211.
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  7.  11
    Review of Paul Katsafanas, Agency and the Foundations of Ethics: Nietzschean Constitutivism. [REVIEW]Alex Silk - 2013 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 10.
    Review of Paul Katsafanas, Agency and the Foundations of Ethics: Nietzschean Constitutivism.
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  8. Semantic with Assignment Variables.Alex Silk - manuscript
    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. The key move 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 account (...)
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