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  1. “Ought” Implies “Can” but Does Not Imply “Must”: An Asymmetry between Becoming Infeasible and Becoming Overridden.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (4):487-514.
    The claim that (OIC) “ought” implies “can” (i.e., you have an obligation only at times at which you can obey it) entails that (1) obligations that become infeasible are lost (i.e., you stop having an obligation when you become unable to obey it). Moreover, the claim that (2) obligations that become overridden are not always lost (i.e., sometimes you keep having an obligation when you acquire a stronger incompatible obligation) entails that (ONIM) “ought” does not imply “must” (i.e., some obligations (...)
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  • Revisiting norms of assertion.John Turri - 2018 - Cognition 177 (C):8-11.
    A principal conclusion supported by convergent evidence from cognitive science, life science, and philosophy is that knowledge is a central norm of assertion—that is, according to the rules of the practice, assertions should express knowledge. That view has recently been challenged with new experiments. This paper identifies a critical confound in the experiments. In the process, a new study is reported that provides additional support for the view that knowledge is a central norm of assertion.
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  • How “ought” exceeds but implies “can”: Description and encouragement in moral judgment.John Turri - 2017 - Cognition 168 (C):267-275.
    This paper tests a theory about the relationship between two important topics in moral philosophy and psychology. One topic is the function of normative language, specifically claims that one “ought” to do something. Do these claims function to describe moral responsibilities, encourage specific behavior, or both? The other topic is the relationship between saying that one “ought” to do something and one’s ability to do it. In what respect, if any, does what one “ought” to do exceed what one “can” (...)
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  • Excuse Validation: A Cross‐cultural Study.John Turri - 2019 - Cognitive Science 43 (8):e12748.
    If someone unintentionally breaks the rules, do they break the rules? In the abstract, the answer is obviously “yes.” But, surprisingly, when considering specific examples of unintentional, blameless rule-breaking, approximately half of people judge that no rule was broken. This effect, known as excuse validation, has previously been observed in American adults. Outstanding questions concern what causes excuse validation, and whether it is peculiar to American moral psychology or cross-culturally robust. The present paper studies the phenomenon cross-culturally, focusing on Korean (...)
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  • Experimental work on the norms of assertion.John Turri - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (7):e12425.
    Communication is essential to human society, and assertion is central to communication. This article reviews evidence from life science, cognitive science, and philosophy relevant to understanding how our social practice of assertion is structured and sustained. The principal conclusion supported by this body of evidence is that knowledge is a central norm of assertion—that is, according to the rules of the practice, assertions should express knowledge.
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  • Compatibilism can be natural.John Turri - 2017 - Consciousness and Cognition 51:68-81.
    Compatibilism is the view that moral responsibility is compatible with determinism. Natural compatibilism is the view that in ordinary social cognition, people are compatibilists. Researchers have recently debated whether natural compatibilism is true. This paper presents six experiments (N = 909) that advance this debate. The results provide the best evidence to date for natural compatibilism, avoiding the main methodological problems faced by previous work supporting the view. In response to simple scenarios about familiar activities, people judged that agents had (...)
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  • Qualitative methods show that surveys misrepresent “ought implies can” judgments.Kyle Thompson - 2023 - Philosophical Psychology 36 (1):29-57.
    Experimental philosophers rely almost exclusively on quantitative surveys that potentially misrepresent participants’ multifarious judgments. To assess the efficacy of qualitative methods in experimental philosophy and reveal limitations with quantitative surveys, a study was conducted on the Kantian principle that ‘ought implies can’, which limits moral obligation to actions that agents can do. Specifically, the think aloud method and a follow-up interview were employed in a modified version of a prominent experiment that recorded participants’ judgments of ability, blame, and obligation using (...)
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  • I Ought to Reply, So I Can.Bart Streumer - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (5):1547-1554.
    I have elsewhere given three arguments for the claim that there can be a reason for a person to perform an action only if this person can perform this action. Henne, Semler, Chituc, De Brigard, and Sinnott-Armstrong make several objections to my arguments. I here respond to their objections.
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  • Demographic Differences in Philosophical Intuition: a Reply to Joshua Knobe.Stephen P. Stich & Edouard Machery - 2023 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 14 (2):401-434.
    In a recent paper, Joshua Knobe (2019) offers a startling account of the metaphilosophical implications of findings in experimental philosophy. We argue that Knobe’s account is seriously mistaken, and that it is based on a radically misleading portrait of recent work in experimental philosophy and cultural psychology.
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  • Recent experimental work on “ought” implies “can”.Jen Semler & Paul Henne - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (9):e12619.
    While philosophers generally accept some version of the principle ‘ought’ implies ‘can’, recent work in experimental philosophy and cognitive science provides evidence against a presupposition or a conceptual entailment from ‘ought’ to ‘can’. Here, we review some of this evidence, its effect on particular formulations of the principle, and future directions for cognitive scientists and philosophers.
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  • Vigilance and control.Samuel Murray & Manuel Vargas - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):825-843.
    We sometimes fail unwittingly to do things that we ought to do. And we are, from time to time, culpable for these unwitting omissions. We provide an outline of a theory of responsibility for unwitting omissions. We emphasize two distinctive ideas: (i) many unwitting omissions can be understood as failures of appropriate vigilance, and; (ii) the sort of self-control implicated in these failures of appropriate vigilance is valuable. We argue that the norms that govern vigilance and the value of self-control (...)
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  • Intuitions, reflective judgments, and experimental philosophy.Michael Hannon - 2018 - Synthese 195 (9):4147-4168.
    Experimental philosophers are often puzzled as to why many armchair philosophers question the philosophical significance of their research. Armchair philosophers, in contrast, are often puzzled as to why experimental philosophers think their work sheds any light on traditional philosophical problems. I argue there is truth on both sides.
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  • Conceptual limitations, puzzlement, and epistemic dilemmas.Deigan Michael - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (9):2771-2796.
    Conceptual limitations restrict our epistemic options. One cannot believe, disbelieve, or doubt what one cannot grasp. I show how, even granting an epistemic ought-implies-can principle, such restrictions might lead to epistemic dilemmas: situations where each of one’s options violates some epistemic requirement. An alternative reaction would be to take epistemic norms to be sensitive to one’s options in ways that ensure dilemmas never arise. I propose, on behalf of the dilemmist, that we treat puzzlement as a kind of epistemic residue, (...)
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  • ‘Must’ implies ‘can’.Miklós Kürthy, Fabio Del Prete & Luca Barlassina - 2022 - Mind and Language 37 (3):620-643.
    An open question in the semantics of modality is what relations there are among different modal flavours. In this article, we consider the thorny issue of whether ascribing to an agent the obligation to φ implies that it is possible for the agent to φ. Traditionally, this issue has been interpreted as whether ‘ought’ implies ‘can’. But another linguistic interpretation is available as well, namely, whether ‘must’ implies ‘can’ (MIC). We show that ‘must’ does imply ‘can’ via a convergent argument. (...)
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  • "Ought Implies Can,” Framing Effects, and "Empirical Refutations".Alicia Kissinger-Knox, Patrick Aragon & Moti Mizrahi - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (1):165-182.
    This paper aims to contribute to the current debate about the status of the “Ought Implies Can” principle and the growing body of empirical evidence that undermines it. We report the results of an experimental study which show that people judge that agents ought to perform an action even when they also judge that those agents cannot do it and that such “ought” judgments exhibit an actor-observer effect. Because of this actor-observer effect on “ought” judgments and the Duhem-Quine thesis, talk (...)
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  • Does Non-Moral Ignorance Exculpate? Situational Awareness and Attributions of Blame and Forgiveness.Alicia Kissinger-Knox, Patrick Aragon & Moti Mizrahi - 2018 - Acta Analytica 33 (2):161-179.
    In this paper, we set out to test empirically an idea that many philosophers find intuitive, namely that non-moral ignorance can exculpate. Many philosophers find it intuitive that moral agents are responsible only if they know the particular facts surrounding their action. Our results show that whether moral agents are aware of the facts surrounding their action does have an effect on people’s attributions of blame, regardless of the consequences or side effects of the agent’s actions. In general, it was (...)
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  • “Ought implies can” & missed care.Alan J. Kearns - 2020 - Nursing Philosophy 21 (1):e12272.
    The concept of missed care refers to an irrefragable truth that required nursing care, which is left undone, occurs in the delivery of health care. As a technical concept, missed care offers nurses the opportunity to articulate a problematic experience. But what are we to make of missed care from an ethical perspective? Can nurses be held morally responsible for missed care? Ethically speaking, it is generally accepted that if a person has a moral obligation to do something, s/he needs (...)
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  • Against Some Recent Arguments for ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’: Reasons, Deliberation, Trying, and Furniture.Paul Henne, Jennifer Semler, Vladimir Chituc, Felipe De Brigard & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (1):131-139.
    Many philosophers claim that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’. In light of recent empirical evidence, however, some skeptics conclude that philosophers should stop assuming the principle unconditionally. Streumer, however, does not simply assume the principle’s truth; he provides arguments for it. In this article, we argue that his arguments fail to support the claim that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’.
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  • An Analysis of Recent Empirical Data on ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’.Yishai Cohen - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (1):57-67.
    Recent experimental studies dispute the position that commonsense morality accepts ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’, the view that, necessarily, if an agent ought to perform some action, then she can perform that action. This paper considers and supports explanations for the results of these studies on the hypothesis that OIC is intuitive and true.
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  • Blame, not ability, impacts moral “ought” judgments for impossible actions: Toward an empirical refutation of “ought” implies “can”.Vladimir Chituc, Paul Henne, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Felipe De Brigard - 2016 - Cognition 150 (C):20-25.
    Recently, psychologists have explored moral concepts including obligation, blame, and ability. While little empirical work has studied the relationships among these concepts, philosophers have widely assumed such a relationship in the principle that “ought” implies “can,” which states that if someone ought to do something, then they must be able to do it. The cognitive underpinnings of these concepts are tested in the three experiments reported here. In Experiment 1, most participants judge that an agent ought to keep a promise (...)
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  • Theoretical Motivation of “Ought Implies Can”.Wesley Buckwalter - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (1):83-94.
    A standard principle in ethics is that moral obligation entails ability, or that “ought implies can”. A strong case has been made that this principle is not well motivated in moral psychology. This paper presents an analogous case against the theoretical motivation for the principle. The principle is in tension with several foundational areas of ethical theorizing, including research on apologies, excuses, promises, moral dilemmas, moral language, disability, and moral agency. Across each of these areas, accepting the principle that obligation (...)
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  • Mind-Brain Dichotomy, Mental Disorder, and Theory of Mind.Wesley Buckwalter - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (2):511-526.
    The tendency to draw mind-brain dichotomies and evaluate mental disorders dualistically arises in both laypeople and mental health professionals, leads to biased judgments, and contributes to mental health stigmatization. This paper offers a theory identifying an underlying source of these evaluations in social practice. According to this theory, dualistic evaluations are rooted in two mechanisms by which we represent and evaluate the beliefs of others in folk psychology and theory of mind: the doxastic conception of mental disorders and doxastic voluntarism. (...)
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  • Implicit attitudes and the ability argument.Wesley Buckwalter - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (11):2961-2990.
    According to one picture of the mind, decisions and actions are largely the result of automatic cognitive processing beyond our ability to control. This picture is in tension with a foundational principle in ethics that moral responsibility for behavior requires the ability to control it. The discovery of implicit attitudes contributes to this tension. According to the ability argument against moral responsibility, if we cannot control implicit attitudes, and implicit attitudes cause behavior, then we cannot be morally responsible for that (...)
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  • Ability, Responsibility, and Global Justice.Wesley Buckwalter - 2017 - Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research 34 (3):577-590.
    Many have argued we have a moral obligation to assist others in need, but given the scope of global suffering, how far does this obligation extend? According to one traditional philosophical view, the obligation to help others is limited by our ability to help them, or by the principle that “ought implies can”. This view is primarily defended on the grounds that it is a core principle of commonsense moral psychology. This paper reviews findings from experimental philosophy in cognitive science (...)
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  • Ought Implies Can Or Could Have.Andrew Dennis Bassford - 2022 - Review of Metaphysics 75 (4):779-807.
    The moral principle that Ought Implies Can (“OIC”) is often assumed without argument in normative discourse. Is this assumption defensible? Some would argue that it is not, as there are many purported counterexamples against it in the literature. However, OIC is not so much a single principle as rather a family of them. In this paper, I will argue that, while not every OIC-type principle is defensible, at least one of them may be. I defend the cognate moral principle that (...)
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  • Moderate scientism in philosophy.Buckwalter Wesley & John Turri - 2018 - In Jeroen de Ridder, Rik Peels & Rene van Woudenberg (eds.), Scientism: Prospects and Problems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Moderate scientism is the view that empirical science can help answer questions in nonscientific disciplines. In this paper, we evaluate moderate scientism in philosophy. We review several ways that science has contributed to research in epistemology, action theory, ethics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. We also review several ways that science has contributed to our understanding of how philosophers make judgments and decisions. Based on this research, we conclude that the case for moderate philosophical scientism is strong: scientific (...)
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  • Skepticism About Moral Responsibility.Gregg D. Caruso - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2018):1-81.
    Skepticism about moral responsibility, or what is more commonly referred to as moral responsibility skepticism, refers to a family of views that all take seriously the possibility that human beings are never morally responsible for their actions in a particular but pervasive sense. This sense is typically set apart by the notion of basic desert and is defined in terms of the control in action needed for an agent to be truly deserving of blame and praise. Some moral responsibility skeptics (...)
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  • Methodological Challenges for Empirical Approaches to Ethics.Christopher Shirreff - 2019 - Dissertation, University of Western Ontario
    The central question for this dissertation is, how do we do moral philosophy well from within a broadly naturalist framework? Its main goal is to lay the groundwork for a methodological approach to moral philosophy that integrates traditional, intuition-driven approaches to ethics with empirical approaches that employ empirical data from biology and cognitive science. Specifically, it explores what restrictions are placed on our moral theorizing by findings in evolutionary biology, psychology, neuroscience, and other fields, and how we can integrate this (...)
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  • Ethics, X-Phi, and the Expanded Methodological Toolbox: How the Think Aloud Method and Interview Reveal People’s Judgments on Issues in Ethics and Beyond.Kyle Thompson - 2019 - Dissertation, Claremont Graduate University
    Ethics isn’t a conversation exclusive to philosophers. There is value, then, in not only understanding how laypeople think about issues in ethics, but also bringing their judgments into dialogue with those of philosophers in order to make sense of agreement, disagreement, and the consequences of each. Experimental philosophers facilitate this dialogue uniquely by capturing laypeople’s judgments and analyzing them in light of philosophical theory. They have done so almost exclusively by using face valid quantitative surveys about philosophically interesting thought experiments. (...)
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  • Does ought imply can?Miklos Kurthy - 2017 - PLoS ONE 12 (4):e0175206.
    Most philosophers believe that a person can have an obligation only insofar as she is able to fulfil it, a principle generally referred to as “Ought Implies Can”. Arguably, this principle reflects something basic about the ordinary concept of obligation. However, in a paper published recently in this journal, Wesley Buckwalter and John Turri presented evidence for the conclusion that ordinary people in fact reject that principle. With a series of studies, they claimed to have demonstrated that, in people’s judgements, (...)
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