Deontic or normative modality is a subject of common interest for researchers in several fields,
including moral philosophy, linguistics, formal logic, and metaethics.  However, over the last three decades, research in these different fields has largely been conducted independently, and researchers have often ignored work in the other fields as having no bearing on the concerns of their own field.  But recent work has begun to bring these fields together in fruitful ways.  This conference is motivated by the view that ethical, linguistic, logical, and metaethical enquiry into deontic modality can all profitably learn from one another.  It aims to bring together leading and creative thinkers in each field in the belief that we may all benefit from each others’ expertise, advancing our collective understanding of this subject.

The conference will be held in Los Angeles on May 20-22, 2013, at the University of Southern California.  The Keynote Speaker will be Angelika Kratzer (University of Massachusetts-Amherst).  Invited speakers include John Broome (Oxford), Jeff Horty (University of Maryland College Park), Frank Jackson (Australian National University/Princeton University), and Paul Portner (Georgetown University).  Seven additional speakers will be selected on the basis of submitted abstracts.

USC and the Los Angeles area contain many academics with interest in this subject; conference discussants are expected to include at least the organizers (Mark Schroeder and Stephen Finlay), Matthew Chrisman, Guy Fletcher, Jim Higginbotham, Robin Jeshion, Michael Ridge, Jacob Ross, Barry Schein, and Ralph Wedgwood.

Suggested topics (not intended to be exhaustive):

  • Is it helpful to think of deontic concepts as a kind of modality at all?
  • The relationship between deontic and other types of modality
  • The relationship between deontic expressions and modal logic
  • The nature or analyzability of moral or deontic modality
  • Pragmatics of deontic modal language
  • Deontic modality and information-relativity
  • Anankastic conditionals/hypothetical imperatives
  • Differences in modal strength between terms (e.g. ‘ought’ vs. ‘must’)
  • Ordering sources and graded modality
  • Deontic Paradoxes
  • The relationship between deontic modals and other normative terms or concepts
  • Deontic modals and imperatives
  • Acquisition of deontic words/concepts
  • Truth-evaluations and attitude ascriptions involving deontic modals
  • Cross-linguistic differences in the language of deontic modality
  • Expressivist vs. descriptivist treatments
  • The syntax of deontic modality (e.g. raising vs. control syntax)
  • Important distinctions among deontic categories
  • Etymology of deontic words

All three-page abstracts submitted to or by January 1st, 2013 will receive full consideration for inclusion in the conference program.