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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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Modalities of Normality

Modalities of Normality

(p.230) 8 Modalities of Normality
Deontic Modality

Seth Yalcin

Oxford University Press

One path into the semantics of the deontic modals ought and should approaches them indirectly, by starting with an investigation of the non-deontic, seemingly epistemic reading of these modals. Seth Yalcin’s chapter embarks down that path. It has two main objectives. First, a case is made against the idea that ought and should are susceptible to true epistemic readings. These modals admit of a certain reading distinct from, but easily confused with, the epistemic flavor of modality. It is suggested that this “pseudo-epistemic” reading suffices to explain the data that have prompted theorists to suppose that there is a true epistemic reading of these modals. The second objective of this chapter is to explore the nature of the pseudo-epistemic reading, including its relation to normality and the connections between these modals and default reasoning.

Keywords:   deontic modal, epistemic modal, modality, default logic, default inference, probability, natural language semantics

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