On the logic of imperatives

Philosophy of Science 6 (4):446-457 (1939)
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Abstract

It is the purpose of this paper to carry out a partial syntactical analysis of imperatives. Imperatives form a large body of linguistic expressions, appearing, e.g. in mathematical proofs be a continuous function!”), laws, moral injunctions, instruction, etc. For analytical purposes we distinguish between two forms of imperatives, the fiat and the directive. By a directive we mean an imperative which includes an indication of the agent who is to carry it out. For example, “Henry, don't forget to stop at the grocery!” is a directive. By a fiat we mean an imperative which includes no reference to an agent who is to carry it out. For example, “Let there be light!” is a fiat. This is a distinction made in terms of meaning. If, however, proper symbolic devices were introduced for the formalization of imperatives, it could be made in a syntactical manner. Thus we could distinguish between imperatives which possess a certain operator—the directive operator formed by putting a name within square brackets—as “[Henry]!”, and imperatives which do not possess this operator, e.g. “Let it be the case that Henry does not forget to stop at the grocery!” In the following we pay attention only to fiats. This, of course, involves a great limitation of subject matter and excludes topics of great interest.

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Citations of this work

A Preference Semantics for Imperatives.William B. Starr - 2020 - Semantics and Pragmatics 20.
Deontic logic.Paul McNamara - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Fiat objects.Barry Smith - 2001 - Topoi 20 (2):131-148.
Command and consequence.Josh Parsons - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (1):61-92.

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