Studia Logica

, Volume 82, Issue 3, pp 329-336

First online:

Ideal Worlds — Wishful Thinking in Deontic Logic

  • Sven Ove HanssonAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy and the History of Technology, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) Email author 

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The ideal world semantics of standard deontic logic identifies our obligations with how we would act in an ideal world. However, to act as if one lived in an ideal world is bad moral advice, associated with wishful thinking rather than well-considered moral deliberation. Ideal world semantics gives rise to implausible logical principles, and the metaphysical arguments that have been put forward in its favour turn out to be based on a too limited view of truth-functional representation. It is argued that ideal world semantics should be given up in favour of other, more plausible uses of possible worlds for modelling normative subject-matter.


deontic logic deontic paradoxes ideal worlds possible worlds truth-functional representation