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Doing the Best One Can

In Alvin Goldman & Jaegwon Kim (eds.), Values and Morals. Reidel. pp. 185--214 (1978)

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  1. Contrary-to-Duty Scenarios, Deontic Dilemmas, and Transmission Principles.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2018 - Ethics 129 (1):98-115.
    Actualists hold that contrary-to-duty scenarios give rise to deontic dilemmas and provide counterexamples to the transmission principle, according to which we ought to take the necessary means to actions we ought to perform. In an earlier article, I have argued, contrary to actualism, that the notion of ‘ought’ that figures in conclusions of practical deliberation does not allow for deontic dilemmas and validates the transmission principle. Here I defend these claims, together with my possibilist account of contrary-to-duty scenarios, against Stephen (...)
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  • Instrumental Normativity: In Defense of the Transmission Principle.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2015 - Ethics 125 (4):921-946.
    If you ought to perform a certain act, and some other action is a necessary means for you to perform that act, then you ought to perform that other action as well – or so it seems plausible to say. This transmission principle is of both practical and theoretical significance. The aim of this paper is to defend this principle against a number of recent objections, which (as I show) are all based on core assumptions of the view called actualism. (...)
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  • How to Be an Actualist and Blame People.Travis Timmerman & Philip Swenson - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility 6.
    The actualism/possibilism debate in ethics concerns the relationship between an agent’s free actions and her moral obligations. The actualist affirms, while the possibilist denies, that facts about what agents would freely do in certain circumstances partly determines that agent’s moral obligations. This paper assesses the plausibility of actualism and possibilism in light of desiderata about accounts of blameworthiness. This paper first argues that actualism cannot straightforwardly accommodate certain very plausible desiderata before offering a few independent solutions on behalf of the (...)
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  • Does Scrupulous Securitism Stand-Up to Scrutiny? Two Problems for Moral Securitism and How We Might Fix Them.Travis Timmerman - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (6):1509-1528.
    A relatively new debate in ethics concerns the relationship between one's present obligations and how one would act in the future. One popular view is actualism, which holds that what an agent would do in the future affects her present obligations. Agent's future behavior is held fixed and the agent's present obligations are determined by what would be best to do now in light of how the agent would act in the future. Doug Portmore defends a new view he calls (...)
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  • Actualism Has Control Issues.Yishai Cohen & Travis Timmerman - 2016 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 10 (3):1-18.
    According to actualism, an agent ought to φ just in case what would happen if she were to φ is better than what would happen if she were to ~φ. We argue that actualism makes a morally irrelevant distinction between certain counterfactuals, given that an agent sometimes has the same kind of control over their truth-value. We then offer a substantive revision to actualism that avoids this morally irrelevant distinction by focusing on a certain kind of control that is available (...)
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  • Moral Obligations: Actualist, Possibilist, or Hybridist?Travis Timmerman & Yishai Cohen - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4):672-686.
    Do facts about what an agent would freely do in certain circumstances at least partly determine any of her moral obligations? Actualists answer ‘yes’, while possibilists answer ‘no’. We defend two novel hybrid accounts that are alternatives to actualism and possibilism: Dual Obligations Hybridism and Single Obligation Hybridism. By positing two moral ‘oughts’, each account retains the benefits of actualism and possibilism, yet is immune from the prima facie problems that face actualism and possibilism. We conclude by highlighting one substantive (...)
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  • Is Objective Act Consequentialism Satisfiable?Johan E. Gustafsson - 2019 - Analysis 79 (2):193-202.
    A compelling requirement on normative theories is that they should be satisfiable, that is, in every possible choice situation with a finite number of alternatives, there should be at least one performable act such that, if one were to perform that act, one would comply with the theory. In this paper, I argue that, given some standard assumptions about free will and counterfactuals, Objective Act Consequentialism violates this requirement.
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  • Imperfect Reasons and Rational Options.Douglas W. Portmore - 2012 - Noûs 46 (1):24 - 60.
    Agents often face a choice of what to do. And it seems that, in most of these choice situations, the relevant reasons do not require performing some particular act, but instead permit performing any of numerous act alternatives. This is known as the basic belief. Below, I argue that the best explanation for the basic belief is not that the relevant reasons are incommensurable (Raz) or that their justifying strength exceeds the requiring strength of opposing reasons (Gert), but that they (...)
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  • Combinative Consequentialism and the Problem of Act Versions.Johan E. Gustafsson - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):585-596.
    In the 1960’s, Lars Bergström and Hector-Neri Castañeda noticed a problem with alternative acts and consequentialism. The source of the problem is that some performable acts are versions of other performable acts and the versions need not have the same consequences as the originals. Therefore, if all performable acts are among the agent’s alternatives, act consequentialism yields deontic paradoxes. A standard response is to restrict the application of act consequentialism to certain relevant alternative sets. Many proposals are based on some (...)
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  • Remote Obligation.Michael J. Zimmerman - 1987 - American Philosophical Quarterly 24 (2):199 - 205.
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  • Actualism, Possibilism, and Beyond.Jacob Ross - 2012 - Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics.
    How is what an agent ought to do related to what an agent ought to prefer that she does? More precisely, suppose we know what an agent’s preference ordering ought to be over the prospects of performing the various courses of action open to her. Can we infer from this information how she ought to act, and if so, how can we infer it? One view (which, for convenience, I will call ‘actualism’) is that an agent ought to  just (...)
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  • Perspectival Act Utilitarianism.John Horty - unknown
    This paper works within a particular framework for reasoning about actions—sometimes known as the framework of “stit semantics”—originally due to Belnap and Perloff, based ultimately on the theory of indeterminism set out in Prior’s indeterministic tense logic, and developed in full detail by Belnap, Perloff, and Xu [3]. The issues I want to consider arise when certain normative, or decision theoretic, notions are introduced into this framework: here I will focus on the notion of a right action, and so on (...)
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  • Maximalism and the Structure of Acts.Campbell Brown - 2018 - Noûs (4):752-771.
    Suppose we believe that a property F is coextensive with moral permissibility. F may be, for example, the property of having the best consequences, if we are Consequentialists, or that of conforming to a universalisable maxim, if we are Kantians, and so on. This may raise the following problem. It is plausible that permissibility is “closed under implication”: any act that is implied by a permissible act must itself be permissible. Yet, in some cases, F might not be closed under (...)
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  • Collectives' Duties and Collectivisation Duties.Stephanie Collins - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (2):231-248.
    Plausibly, only moral agents can bear action-demanding duties. This places constraints on which groups can bear action-demanding duties: only groups with sufficient structure—call them ‘collectives’—have the necessary agency. Moreover, if duties imply ability then moral agents (of both the individual and collectives varieties) can bear duties only over actions they are able to perform. It is thus doubtful that individual agents can bear duties to perform actions that only a collective could perform. This appears to leave us at a loss (...)
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  • Defending a Possibilist Insight in Consequentialist Thought.Jean-Paul Vessel - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 142 (2):183 - 195.
    There is a heated dispute among consequentialists concerning the following deontic principle.
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  • Where Did I Go Wrong?Michael J. Zimmerman - 1990 - Philosophical Studies 59 (1):55 - 77.
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  • I Won’T Do It! Self-Prediction, Moral Obligation and Moral Deliberation.Jennie Louise - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 146 (3):327 - 348.
    This paper considers the question of whether predictions of wrongdoing are relevant to our moral obligations. After giving an analysis of ‘won’t’ claims (i.e., claims that an agent won’t Φ), the question is separated into two different issues: firstly, whether predictions of wrongdoing affect our objective moral obligations, and secondly, whether self-prediction of wrongdoing can be legitimately used in moral deliberation. I argue for an affirmative answer to both questions, although there are conditions that must be met for self-prediction to (...)
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  • Act Utilitarianism and Dynamic Deliberation.Daniel Hunter - 1994 - Erkenntnis 41 (1):1 - 35.
    Coordination problems, problems in which each agent's expected utility depends upon what other agents do, pose a problem for act utilitarianism. When the agents are act utilitarians and know of each other that they are so, they seem unable to achieve optimal outcomes in certain coordination problems. I examine various ways the act utilitarian might attempt to solve this problem, where act utilitarianism is interpreted within the framework of subjective expected utility theory. In particular, a new method for computing expected (...)
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  • The Logic of Obligation, 'Better' and 'Worse'.Lou Goble - 1993 - Philosophical Studies 70 (2):133 - 163.
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  • Subsidiary Obligation.Michael J. Zimmerman - 1986 - Philosophical Studies 50 (1):65 - 75.
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  • Actualism and Possibilism in Ethics.Travis Timmerman & Yishai Cohen - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • I Won’T Do It! Self-Prediction, Moral Obligation and Moral Deliberation.Jennie Louise - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 146 (3):327-348.
    This paper considers the question of whether predictions of wrongdoing are relevant to our moral obligations. After giving an analysis of 'won't' claims, the question is separated into two different issues: firstly, whether predictions of wrongdoing affect our objective moral obligations, and secondly, whether self-prediction of wrongdoing can be legitimately used in moral deliberation. I argue for an affirmative answer to both questions, although there are conditions that must be met for self-prediction to be appropriate in deliberation. The discussion illuminates (...)
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  • Utilitarian Principles for Imperfect Agents.Jordan Howard Sobel - 1982 - Theoria 48 (3):113-126.
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  • Maximalism Versus Omnism About Permissibility.Douglas Portmore - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):427-452.
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