Alex Silk


I am a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Birmingham. I completed my Ph.D. philosophy at the University of Michigan. My dissertation was on the meaning of normative language—especially deontic modals—and how incorporating insights from philosophy of language and linguistics can illuminate classic questions in normative and metanormative theory.

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  1. “Evidence-Sensitivity in Weak Necessity Deontic Modals” (language). Forthcoming. Journal of Philosophical Logic.

  2. “Why ‘Ought’ Detaches” (ethics, language). 2014. Philosophers’ Imprint 14(7): 1-16.

  3. “Nietzschean Constructivism” (ethics, history). Forthcoming. Special issue of Inquiry on Nietzsche’s moral psychology.

  4. “What Normative Terms Mean and Why It Matters for Ethical Theory” (ethics, language). Forthcoming. In M. Timmons (Ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Vol. 5.

  5. “Truth-Conditions and the Meanings of Ethical Terms” (ethics, language). 2013. In R. Shafer-Landau (Ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 8.

  6. “Modality, Weights, and Inconsistent Premise Sets” (language). In A. Chereches (Ed.), Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 22, pp. 43-64. 2012. (SUPERSEDED: See the drafts “‘Ought’ and ‘Must’: Some Philosophical Therapy” and “Modality, Weights, and Inconsistent Premise Sets” below for more up-to-date developments of the ideas in this paper.)


(Please do not cite or quote without permission. Comments welcome.)

  1. Discourse Contextualism: A Framework for Contextualist Semantics and Pragmatics. Book manuscript. In preparation.

  2. “‘Ought’ and ‘Must’: Some Philosophical Therapy”: language, ethics. (This is an expanded   and revised version of my SALT paper on ‘ought’ and ‘must’ that addresses additional philosophical issues.)

  3. “How to Be an Ethical Expressivist”: ethics, language

  4. “Modality, Weights, and Inconsistent Premise Sets”: language. (This is an expanded version of the section of my SALT paper on weights and priorities.)

  5. “Deontic Conditionals: Weak and Strong”: language

  6. “Standards and Scoreboards”: language (down for revision)

  7. “Agent-Relative Teleology, Conditional Preferences, and Centered Worlds”: ethics

  8. “The Progressive and Verbs of Creation”: language

  9. “Nihilism, art, and value creation in Nietzsche’s ethics and metaethics”: history

  10. “Anankastic Conditionals in Context”: language (down for revision)


  1. 1. Review of R. Shafer-Landau (Ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 6. Ethics 122(3): 622–627.

  2. 2. Review of P. Katsafanas, Agency and the Foundations of Ethics. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. (in preparation)