Putting oughts together

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David Boylan


Consistent Agglomeration says that, when φ and ψ are consistent, ⌜ought φ⌝ and ⌜ought ψ⌝ entail ⌜ought (φ ∧ ψ)⌝; I argue this principle is valid for deontic, but not epistemic oughts. I argue no existing theory predicts these data and give a new semantics and pragmatics for ought: ought is an existential quantifier over the best partial answers to some background question; and presupposes that those best partial answers are pairwise consistent. In conjunction with a plausible assumption about the difference between deontic and epistemic orderings, this semantics validates Agglomeration for deontics but not epistemics.


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