Vol 18 No 2 (2018)
Logic and Law

Possible worlds semantics and deontic accessibility

Nicola Muffato
IUSLIT, Università degli Studi di Trieste
Published December 21, 2018
  • modalities,
  • possible worlds semantics,
  • deontic logic,
  • deontic accessibility,
  • normativity


This paper is meant to criticize the application of possible worlds semantics (PWS) to deontic logic and the analysis of normative language. After briefly presenting the main notions and tenets of PWS (§3) – with a special attention to the accessibility relation between possible worlds – and the analogy between modalities and quantifiers it aims at accommodating in a unified framework (§2), I reconstruct some general objections against this model (§4) and expose some arguments which undermine its applicability to deontic logic (§5). More precisely, I argue that PWS definitions of the deontic modalities are subtly circular.