Update semantics for weak necessity modals

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This paper develops an update semantics for weak necessity modals (‘ought’, ‘should’).
I start with the basic approach to the weak/strong necessity modal distinction developed
in Silk 2012b: There is nothing specially “strong” about strong necessity modals;
they can be given their familiar semantics of necessity, predicating the necessity of
the prejacent of the evaluation world. The apparent “weakness” of weak necessity
modals results from their bracketing whether the necessity of the prejacent is veri-
fied in the actual world. I formalize these ideas within an Update with Centering
framework (Bittner 2011). The meaning of ‘Should φ’ is explained, fundamentally, in
terms of how its use updates attention toward (semantically unspecified) possibilities
in which φ is necessary. The semantics is also extended to deontic conditionals. The
proposed analyses capture various contrasting discourse properties of ‘should’ and
‘must’ — e.g. concerning context-sensitivity, entailingness, and force — and provide
an improved treatment of largely neglected data concerning information-sensitivity.
I close by briefly considering several alternative static and dynamic implementations
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeontic logic and normative systems (DEON 2016)
Subtitle of host publication13th International Conference, DEON 2016, Bayreuth, Germany
EditorsOlivier Roy, Malte Willer, Allard Temminga
PublisherCollege Publications
ISBN (Print)978-1848902152
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2016
EventDeontic Logic and Normative Systems, DEON 2016: 13th International Conference - Germany, Bayreuth, Germany
Duration: 18 Jul 201621 Jul 2016


ConferenceDeontic Logic and Normative Systems, DEON 2016


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