More on Iffy Oughts

A draft of my new paper "Dynamic Thoughts on Ifs and Oughts" is now available in the Research section. It brings the good news that a dynamic semantics for ifs and oughts does not only resolve the miners paradox but also the classical deontic paradoxes from Forrester and Chisholm, and in a way that preserves factual and deontic detachment. Here is the abstract:

Iffy oughts figure prominently in a variety of paradoxes of deontic logic. A satisfying response to these paradoxes is a non-negotiable component of any adequate semantic story about conditionals and deontic modals. I will demonstrate that such a story can be told but doing so requires that we supplement a semantics that pays proper attention to the sensitivity of ifs and oughts to contextual information with a dynamic conception of logical consequence. The resulting framework naturally leads to a nonmonotonic logic for conditionals and deontic modals which differs from its static alternatives in that it elegantly resolves not only Kolodny’s and MacFarlane’s recent miners paradox but also the more classical paradoxes about conditional obligations from Forrester and Chisholm.


The schedule for this year’s Semantics and Linguistic Theory is now online here, together with some other useful information. Needless to say, it is great to have such a distinguished event happening here at UChicago!