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Deontic Modality$
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Nate Charlow and Matthew Chrisman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198717928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198717928.001.0001

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Objective and Subjective ‘Ought’

Objective and Subjective ‘Ought’

(p.143) 5 Objective and Subjective ‘Ought’
Deontic Modality

Ralph Wedgwood

Oxford University Press

Ralph Wedgwood here offers an account of the truth conditions of sentences involving deontic modals such as ‘ought’, designed to capture the difference between objective and subjective kinds of ‘ought’. This account resembles the classical semantics for deontic logic: according to this account, these truth conditions involve a function from the world of evaluation to a domain of worlds (equivalent to a so-called ‘modal base’), and an ordering of the worlds in such domains; this ordering of the worlds itself arises from two further elements – a probability function and a value function – since this ordering ranks the worlds in accordance with the expected value of certain propositions that are true at those worlds. Evidence is given that this account assigns the correct truth conditions to a wide range of sentences involving ‘ought’. Finally, some objections that might be raised against this account are answered.

Keywords:   ought, deontic modality, semantics, expected value, conditional

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