Semantics and Pragmatics of Norms (SPN)

Reading group: Semantics and Pragmatics of Norms, convened by Teresa Marques

This reading group studies (mostly) recent work on the semantics and pragmatics of normative statements: statements involving deontic modals, like ‘must’, ‘can’, ‘should’, ‘ought’, of conditionals, and of imperatives, as a means to bring to bear recent work in philosophy of language on normative legal statements and disputes. The reading group SPN will meet weekly, on the weeks of the 27th October, 3, 10, 17, 24 November, and 1 and 8 December, with a total of 7 weeks and 7 possible articles. If there’s enough interest among the participants, we can have two more meetings after the Christmas break. The reading group would be open to anyone interested, students or ‘senior.

More information on the seminar (where, when, what is read) is posted under news.

You can find a provisional reading list below.

If you’re in or around Barcelona and want to attend, please drop Teresa a line to let her know, using the contact form.


Charlow, N. (2014). The Meaning of Imperatives. Philosophy Compass 9/8: 540-555

Dowell, J. L. (2013). Flexible Contextualism about Deontic Modals: A Puzzle about Information-sensitivity. Inquiry 56 (2-3):149-178.

Dowell, J. L. (2011). A Flexible Contextualist Account of Epistemic Modals. Philosophers’ Imprint 11 (14):1-25.

Kratzer, A. (1977). What ‘Must’ and ‘Can’ Must and Can Mean. Linguistics and Philosophy 1: 337-355.

Kolodny, N. and J. MacFarlane. (2010). Ifs and Oughts. Journal of Philosophy 107: 115–43.

Plunkett, D. & T. Sundell. 2013. Disagreement and the Semantics of Normative and Evaluative Terms. Philosophers’ Imprint. Volume 13, 1-37.

Plunkett, D. & T. Sundell. (2014). Antipositivist Arguments from Legal Thought and Talk: The Metalinguistic Response. Pragmatism, Law, and Language. Routledge.

Plunkett, D. & T. Sundell. (2013) Dworkin’s Interpretivism and The Pragmatics of Legal Disputes, Legal Theory. Volume 19, 242-281.

Von Fintel,  K. (2012) The best (we can expect to) get? Challenges to the classic semantics for deontic modals. MS presented at the APA.

Ninan, D. (2005) Two Puzzles about Deontic Necessity, in New Work on Modality, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, 51.