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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 4, 1978

Elizabeth Smith
Pages 247-256

Another Way to Derive an 'Ought' from an 'Is'

In Speech Acts John Searle reframed his derivation of 'ought' from 'is' in order to eliminate the controversial ceteris paribus premises. I argue that the elimination of the first ceteris paribus (3a) is satisfactory but that the elimination of (4a) renders questionable his claim that an 'ought' statement follows from the premises categorically. Further I argue that the use of dilemma in the proof will enable us to show that an 'ought' statement follows from the premises whether everything (at step 4a) is equal or not. Thus Searle's original and clearer conclusion can be saved. Moreover, this proof technique allows us to more clearly illustrate some important features of obligation.