Recent thought on is and ought: Connections, confluences and rediscoveries

Lloyd Humberstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Section 1 of this critical survey recalls the much discussed difficulty noted by A. N. Prior in a 1960 paper for a formulation of Hume’s Law to the effect that no valid inference can take us from non-ethical premises to an ethical conclusion. Section 2 presents a response by Toomas Karmo from the 1980s, echoes of which surface in discussions of the problem over the past 5–10 years, also noted in this section along with some objections that have been raised to this line of thought. Section 3 reviews another, more recent (2010) contribution to the debate, from Greg Restall and Gillian Russell, and discusses its connections to the material in play in previous section, as well as aspects of the reception of this contribution by commentators. This way of organizing things makes possible a reasonably comprehensive guide to (at least the main highlights of) the recent literature. Several more detailed passages are postponed to Postscripts at the end of each section, or demoted to footnote discussion, to be skipped by those wanting a speedier overview, though of necessity that will mean that some voices go unheard and some mistakes uncorrected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1373-1446
Number of pages74
JournalIfCoLoG Journal of Logics and their Applications
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Cite this