Chisholm's paradox and conditional oughts

Catharine Saint-Croix, Richmond H. Thomason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Since it was presented in 1963, Chisholm's paradox has attracted constant attention in the deontic logic literature, but without the emergence of any definitive solution. We claim this is due to its having no single solution. The paradox actually presents many challenges to the formalization of deontic statements, including (i) context-sensitivity of unconditional oughts, (ii) formalizing conditional oughts, and (iii) distinguishing generic from non-generic oughts. Using the practical interpretation of 'ought' as a guideline, we propose a linguistically motivated logical solution to each of these problems, and explain the relation of the solution to the problem of contrary-to-duty obligations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberexw003
Pages (from-to)369-386
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Logic and Computation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Chisholm's paradox
  • conditional oughts
  • conditionals
  • contrary-to-duty obligation
  • Deontic logic
  • generics

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