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  1. What 'We'?Holly Lawford-Smith - 2015 - Journal of Social Ontology 1 (2):225-250.
    The objective of this paper is to explain why certain authors - both popular and academic - are making a mistake when they attribute obligations to uncoordinated groups of persons, and to argue that it is particularly unhelpful to make this mistake given the prevalence of individuals faced with the difficult question of what morality requires of them in a situation in which there's a good they can bring about together with others, but not alone. I'll defend two alternatives to (...)
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  • Derivative Culpability.Martin Montminy - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (5):689-709.
    I explore the question of when an agent is derivatively, rather than directly, culpable for an undesirable outcome. The undesirable outcome might be a harmful incompetent or unwitting act, or it might be a harmful event. By examining various cases, I develop a sophisticated account of indirect culpability that is neutral about controversies regarding normative ethical issues and the condition on direct culpability.
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  • Reasons Why in Normative Explanation.Pekka Väyrynen - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (6):607-623.
    Normative explanations, which specify why things have the normative features they do, are ubiquitous in normative theory and ordinary thought. But there is much less work on normative explanation than on scientific or metaphysical explanation. Skow (2016) argues that a complete answer to the question why some fact Q occurs consists in all of the reasons why Q occurs. This paper explores this theory as a case study of a general theory that promises to offer us a grip on normative (...)
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  • ‘Ought Implies Can’ and the Law.Chris Fox & Guglielmo Feis - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):370-393.
    In this paper, we investigate the ‘ought implies can’ thesis, focusing on explanations and interpretations of OIC, with a view to clarifying its uses and relevance to legal philosophy. We first review various issues concerning the semantics and pragmatics of OIC; then we consider how OIC may be incorporated in Hartian and Kelsenian theories of the law. Along the way we also propose a taxonomy of OIC-related claims.
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  • The Composition of Reasons.Campbell Brown - 2013 - Synthese 191 (5):779-800.
    How do reasons combine? How is it that several reasons taken together can have a combined weight which exceeds the weight of any one alone? I propose an answer in mereological terms: reasons combine by composing a further, complex reason of which they are parts. Their combined weight is the weight of their combination. I develop a mereological framework, and use this to investigate some structural views about reasons, the main two being "Atomism" and "Holism". Atomism is the view that (...)
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  • Incompatibilism and Prudential Obligation.Ishtiyaque Haji - 2010 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 40 (3):385-410.
    Take determinism to be the thesis that for any instant, there is exactly one physically possible future, and understand incompatibilism regarding responsibility to be the view that determinism is incompatible with moral responsibility. Of the many different arguments that have been advanced for this view, the crux of a relatively traditional one is this: If determinism is true, then we lack alternatives. If we lack alternatives, then we can't be morally responsible for any of our behavior. Therefore, if determinism is (...)
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  • Bayesian Epistemology and Having Evidence.Jeffrey Dunn - 2010 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    Bayesian Epistemology is a general framework for thinking about agents who have beliefs that come in degrees. Theories in this framework give accounts of rational belief and rational belief change, which share two key features: (i) rational belief states are represented with probability functions, and (ii) rational belief change results from the acquisition of evidence. This dissertation focuses specifically on the second feature. I pose the Evidence Question: What is it to have evidence? Before addressing this question we must have (...)
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  • The Relativistic Car: Applying Metaethics to the Debate About Self-Driving Vehicles.Thomas Pölzler - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (3):833-850.
    Almost all participants in the debate about the ethics of accidents with self-driving cars have so far assumed moral universalism. However, universalism may be philosophically more controversial than is commonly thought, and may lead to undesirable results in terms of non-moral consequences and feasibility. There thus seems to be a need to also start considering what I refer to as the “relativistic car” — a car that is programmed under the assumption that what is morally right, wrong, good, bad, etc. (...)
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  • Incompatibilism and Prudential Obligation.Ishtiyaque Haji - 2010 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 40 (3):385-410.
    Take determinism to be the thesis that for any instant, there is exactly one physically possible future (van Inwagen 1983, 3), and understand incompatibilism regarding responsibility to be the view that determinism is incompatible with moral responsibility. Of the many different arguments that have been advanced for this view, the crux of a relatively traditional one is this: If determinism is true, then we lack alternatives.1 If we lack alternatives, then we can't be morally responsible for any of our behavior. (...)
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  • Positive Economics and the Normativistic Fallacy: Bridging the Two Sides of CSR.Philipp Schreck, Dominik van Aaken & Thomas Donaldson - 2013 - Business Ethics Quarterly 23 (2):297-329.
    In response to criticism of empirical or “positive” approaches to corporate social responsibility, we defend the importance of these approaches for any CSR theory that seeks to have practical impact. Although we acknowledge limitations to positive approaches, we unpack the neglected but crucial relationships between positive knowledge on the one hand and normative knowledge on the other in the implementation of CSR principles. Using the structure of a practical syllogism, we construct a model that displays the key role of empirical (...)
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  • The Problem of Insignificant Hands.Frank Hindriks - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-26.
    Many morally significant outcomes can be brought about only if several individuals contribute to them. However, individual contributions to collective outcomes often fail to have morally significant effects on their own. Some have concluded from this that it is permissible to do nothing. What I call ‘the problem of insignificant hands’ is the challenge of determining whether and when people are obligated to contribute. For this to be the case, I argue, the prospect of helping to bring about the outcome (...)
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  • Reasons and Guidance.Jonathan Way & Daniel Whiting - 2016 - Analytic Philosophy 57 (3):214-235.
    Many philosophers accept a response constraint on normative reasons: that p is a reason for you to φ only if you are able to φ for the reason that p. This constraint offers a natural way to cash out the familiar and intuitive thought that reasons must be able to guide us, and has been put to work as a premise in a range of influential arguments in ethics and epistemology. However, the constraint requires interpretation and faces putative counter-examples due (...)
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  • Ought Implies Can, Asymmetrical Freedom, and the Practical Irrelevance of Transcendental Freedom.Matthé Scholten - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):1-18.
    In this paper, I demonstrate that Kant's commitment to an asymmetry between the control conditions for praise and blame is explained by his endorsement of the principle Ought Implies Can (OIC). I argue that Kant accepts only a relatively weak version of OIC and that he is hence committed only to a relatively weak requirement of alternate possibilities for moral blame. This suggests that whether we are transcendentally free is irrelevant to questions about moral permissibility and moral blameworthiness.
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  • What Ability Can Do.Ben Schwan - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (3):703-723.
    One natural way to argue for the existence of some subjective constraint on agents’ obligations is to maintain that without that particular constraint, agents will sometimes be obligated to do that which they lack the ability to do. In this paper, I maintain that while such a strategy appears promising, it is fraught with pitfalls. Specifically, I argue that because the truth of an ability ascription depends on an (almost always implicit) characterization of the relevant possibility space, different metaethical accounts (...)
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  • Normative Transmission and Necessary Means.Jakob Werkmäster - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (2):555-568.
    This paper focuses on the interaction of reasons and argues that reasons for an action may transmit to the necessary means of that action. Analyzing exactly how this phenomenon may be captured by principles governing normative transmission has proved an intricate task in recent years. In this paper, I assess three formulations focusing on normative transmission and necessary means: Ought Necessity, Strong Necessity, and Weak Necessity. My focus is on responding to two of the main objections raised against normative transmission (...)
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  • Collective Responsibility Gaps.Stephanie Collins - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (4):943-954.
    Which kinds of responsibility can we attribute to which kinds of collective, and why? In contrast, which kinds of collective responsibility can we not attribute—which kinds are ‘gappy’? This study provides a framework for answering these questions. It begins by distinguishing between three kinds of collective and three kinds of responsibility. It then explains how gaps—i.e. cases where we cannot attribute the responsibility we might want to—appear to arise within each type of collective responsibility. It argues some of these gaps (...)
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  • Reason, Responsibility, and Free Will: Reply to My Critics. [REVIEW]Ishtiyaque Haji - 2012 - The Journal of Ethics 16 (2):175-209.
    This paper highlights and discusses some key positions on free will and moral responsibility that I have defended. I begin with reflections on a Strawsonian analysis of moral responsibility. Then I take up objections to the view that there is an asymmetry in freedom requirements for moral responsibility and moral obligation: obligation but not responsibility requires that we could have done otherwise. I follow with some thoughts on the viability of different sorts of semi-compatibilism. Next, I turn to defending the (...)
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  • Non-Ideal Accessibility.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):653-669.
    What should we do when we won't do as we ought? Suppose it ought to be that the procrastinating professor accept the task of reviewing a book, and actually review the book. It seems clear that given he won't review it, he ought not to accept the task. That is a genuine moral obligation in light of less than perfect circumstances. I want to entertain the possibility that a set of such obligations form something like a 'practical morality'; that which (...)
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  • Perceptualism and the Epistemology of Normative Reasons.Jean Moritz Müller - forthcoming - Synthese:1-30.
    According to much recent work in metaethics, we have a perceptual access to normative properties and relations. On a common approach, this access has a presentational character. Here, ‘presentational’ specifies a characteristic feature of the way aspects of the environment are apprehended in sensory experience. While many authors have argued that we enjoy presentations of value properties, thus far comparatively less effort has been invested into developing a presentational view of the apprehension of normative reasons. Since it appears that this (...)
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  • On the Reason View of Freedom and Semi-Compatibilism.Ishtiyaque Haji - 2011 - Acta Analytica 26 (4):343-353.
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  • The Radical Behavioral Challenge and Wide-Scope Obligations in Business.Hasko von Kriegstein - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics:1-11.
    This paper responds to the Radical Behavioral Challenge to normative business ethics. According to RBC, recent research on bounded ethicality shows that it is psychologically impossible for people to follow the prescriptions of normative business ethics. Thus, said prescriptions run afoul of the principle that nobody has an obligation to do something that they cannot do. I show that the only explicit response to this challenge in the business ethics literature is flawed because it limits normative business ethics to condemning (...)
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  • If You Can't Change What You Believe, You Don't Believe It.Grace Helton - 2020 - Noûs 54 (3):501-526.
    I develop and defend the view that subjects are necessarily psychologically able to revise their beliefs in response to relevant counter-evidence. Specifically, subjects can revise their beliefs in response to relevant counter-evidence, given their current psychological mechanisms and skills. If a subject lacks this ability, then the mental state in question is not a belief, though it may be some other kind of cognitive attitude, such as a supposi-tion, an entertained thought, or a pretense. The result is a moderately revisionary (...)
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  • “The Thing To Do” Implies “Can”.Nicholas Southwood - 2016 - Noûs 50 (1):61-72.
    A familiar complaint against the principle that “ought” implies “can” is that it seems that agents can intentionally make it the case that they cannot perform acts that they nonetheless ought to perform. I propose a related principle that I call the principle that “the thing to do” implies “can.” I argue that the principle that “the thing to do” implies “can” is implied by important but underappreciated truths about practical reason, and that it is not vulnerable to the familiar (...)
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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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  • The Fitting Attitudes Analysis of Value: An Explanatory Challenge.Kent Hurtig - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (12):3241-3249.
    This paper is concerned with the implication from value to fittingness. I shall argue that those committed to this implication face a serious explanatory challenge. This argument is not intended as a knock-down argument against FA but it will, I think, show that those who endorse the theory incur a particular explanatory burden: to explain how counterfactual favouring of actual value is possible. After making two important preliminary points I briefly discuss an objection to FA made by Krister Bykvist a (...)
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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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  • Evolutionary Models and the Normative Significance of Stability.Arnon Levy - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (5-6):33.
    Many have expected that understanding the evolution of norms should, in some way, bear on our first-order normative outlook: How norms evolve should shape which norms we accept. But recent philosophy has not done much to shore up this expectation. Most existing discussions of evolution and norms either jump headlong into the is/ought gap or else target meta-ethical issues, such as the objectivity of norms. My aim in this paper is to sketch a different way in which evolutionary considerations can (...)
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  • Ideal Theory and "Ought Implies Can".Amy Berg - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (4):869-890.
    When we can’t live up to the ultimate standards of morality, how can moral theory give us guidance? We can distinguish between ideal and non-ideal theory to see that there are different versions of the voluntarist constraint, ‘ought implies can.’ Ideal moral theory identifies the best standard, so its demands are constrained by one version. Non-ideal theory tells us what to do given our psychological and motivational shortcomings and so is constrained by others. Moral theory can now both provide an (...)
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  • Do Intentions Set Up Rational Defaults? Commitments, Reasons, and the Diachronic Dimension of Rationality.Jens Gillessen - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (1):29-64.
    Suppose that you do not do what you have previously decided to do. Are you to be charged with irrationality? A number of otherwise divergent theories of practical rationality hold that by default, you are; there are rational pressures, it is claimed, that favor the long-term stability and eventual execution of distal intentions. The article challenges this view by examining how these purported pressures can be spelled out. Is intention a normative commitment to act? Are intentions reasons for action – (...)
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  • Intentions, Permissibility, and Choice.Anton Markoč - 2018 - Res Publica 24 (4):493-508.
    T. M. Scanlon has argued that the intentions with which one acts, or more specifically, one’s reasons for acting, are non-derivatively irrelevant to the moral permissibility of one’s actions. According to one of his arguments in favor of that thesis, it can be permissible to act for one reason rather than another only if one can choose to act for a reason but, since that choice is impossible since believing as will is impossible, one can be permitted to act but (...)
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  • ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’ Against Epistemic Deontologism: Beyond Doxastic Involuntarism.Charles Côté-Bouchard - 2019 - Synthese 196 (4):1641-1656.
    According to epistemic deontologism, attributions of epistemic justification are deontic claims about what we ought to believe. One of the most prominent objections to this conception, due mainly to William P. Alston, is that the principle that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ rules out deontologism because our beliefs are not under our voluntary control. In this paper, I offer a partial defense of Alston’s critique of deontologism. While Alston is right that OIC rules out epistemic deontologism, appealing to doxastic involuntarism is not (...)
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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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  • Culpability and Irresponsibility.Martin Montminy - 2018 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 12 (1):167-181.
    I defend the principle that a person is blameworthy for her action only if that action was morally wrong. But what should we say about an agent who does the right thing based on bad motives? I present three types of cases that have these features. In each, I argue, the agent is not culpable for her action; however, she violates the norm of moral responsibility, and thus acts in a morally irresponsible way. This analysis, I show, has several virtues. (...)
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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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  • Omissions and Expectations: A New Approach to the Things We Failed to Do.Pascale Willemsen - 2018 - Synthese 195 (4):1587-1614.
    Imagine you and your friend Pierre agreed on meeting each other at a café, but he does not show up. What is the difference between a friend’s not showing up meeting? and any other person not coming? In some sense, all people who did not come show the same kind of behaviour, but most people would be willing to say that the absence of a friend who you expected to see is different in kind. In this paper, I will spell (...)
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  • Perspectivism and the Argument From Guidance.Jonathan Way & Daniel Whiting - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (2):361-374.
    Perspectivists hold that what you ought to do is determined by your perspective, that is, your epistemic position. Objectivists hold that what you ought to do is determined by the facts irrespective of your perspective. This paper explores an influential argument for perspectivism which appeals to the thought that the normative is action guiding. The crucial premise of the argument is that you ought to φ only if you are able to φ for the reasons which determine that you ought (...)
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  • Objective Consequentialism and Avoidable Imperfections.Rob van Someren Greve - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):481-492.
    There are two distinct views on how to formulate an objective consequentialist account of the deontic status of actions, actualism and possibilism. On an actualist account, what matters to the deontic status of actions is only the value of the outcome an action would have, if performed. By contrast, a possibilist account also takes into account the value of the outcomes that an action could have. These two views come apart in their deontic verdicts when an agent is imperfect in (...)
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  • Group Agency and Overdetermination.David Killoren & Bekka Williams - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (2):295-307.
    A morally objectionable outcome can be overdetermined by the actions of multiple individual agents. In such cases, the outcome is the same regardless of what any individual does or does not do. (For a clear example of such a case, imagine the execution of an innocent person by a firing squad.) We argue that, in some of these types of cases, (a) there exists a group agent, a moral agent constituted by individual agents; (b) the group agent is guilty of (...)
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  • Reasons for Action and Psychological Capacities.Rosemary Lowry - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (4):521 - 531.
    Most moral philosophers agree that if a moral agent is incapable of performing some act ϕ because of a physical incapacity, then they do not have a reason to ϕ. Most also claim that if an agent is incapable of ϕ-ing due to a psychological incapacity, brought about by, for example, an obsession or phobia, then this does not preclude them from having a reason to ϕ. This is because the 'ought implies can' principle is usually interpreted as a claim (...)
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  • New Foundations for Imperative Logic Iii: A General Definition of Argument Validity.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2012 - Manuscript in Preparation.
    Besides pure declarative arguments, whose premises and conclusions are declaratives (“you sinned shamelessly; so you sinned”), and pure imperative arguments, whose premises and conclusions are imperatives (“repent quickly; so repent”), there are mixed-premise arguments, whose premises include both imperatives and declaratives (“if you sinned, repent; you sinned; so repent”), and cross-species arguments, whose premises are declaratives and whose conclusions are imperatives (“you must repent; so repent”) or vice versa (“repent; so you can repent”). I propose a general definition of argument (...)
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  • Feasibility Constraints for Political Theories.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2010 - Dissertation, Australian National University
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  • Justice and Feasibility: A Dynamic Approach.Pablo Gilabert - 2017 - In K. Vallier & M. Weber (eds.), Political Utopias: Contemporary Debates. Oxford University Press. pp. 95-126.
    It is common in political theory and practice to challenge normatively ambitious proposals by saying that their fulfillment is not feasible. But there has been insufficient conceptual exploration of what feasibility is, and very little substantive inquiry into why and how it matters for thinking about social justice. This paper provides one of the first systematic treatments of these issues, and proposes a dynamic approach to the relation between justice and feasibility that illuminates the importance of political imagination and dynamic (...)
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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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  • Agency and Virtues.Zahra Khazaei - 2019 - Journal of Philosophical Theological Research 21 (3):119-140.
    In the philosophy of action, agency manifests the capacity of the agent to act. An agent is one who acts voluntarily, consciously and intentionally. This article studies the relationship between virtues and agency to learn to what extent agency is conceptually and metaphysically dependent on moral or epistemic virtues; whether virtue is a necessary condition for action and agency, besides the belief, desire and intention? Or are virtues necessary merely for the moral or epistemic character of the agent and not (...)
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  • The Feasibility of Collectives' Actions.Holly Lawford-Smith - 2012 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3):453-467.
    Does ?ought? imply ?can? for collectives' obligations? In this paper I want to establish two things. The first, what a collective obligation means for members of the collective. The second, how collective ability can be ascertained. I argue that there are four general kinds of obligation, which devolve from collectives to members in different ways, and I give an account of the distribution of obligation from collectives to members for each of these kinds. One implication of understanding collective obligation and (...)
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  • Is Agent-Neutral Deontology Possible?Matthew Hammerton - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 12 (3):319-324.
    It is commonly held that all deontological moral theories are agent-relative in the sense that they give each agent a special concern that she does not perform acts of a certain type rather than a general concern with the actions of all agents. Recently, Tom Dougherty has challenged this orthodoxy by arguing that agent-neutral deontology is possible. In this article I counter Dougherty's arguments and show that agent-neutral deontology is not possible.
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  • 'Ought' and Ability.P. A. Graham & Peter Graham - 2011 - Philosophical Review 120 (3):337-382.
    A principle that many have found attractive is one that goes by the name “'Ought' Implies 'Can'.” According to this principle, one morally ought to do something only if one can do it. This essay has two goals: to show that the principle is false and to undermine the motivations that have been offered for it. Toward the end, a proposal about moral obligation according to which something like a restricted version of 'Ought' Implies 'Can' is true is floated. Though (...)
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  • How Reasons Are Sensitive to Available Evidence.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2018 - In Conor McHugh, Jonathan Way & Daniel Whiting (eds.), Normativity: Epistemic and Practical. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 90-114.
    In this paper, I develop a theory of how claims about an agent’s normative reasons are sensitive to the epistemic circumstances of this agent, which preserves the plausible ideas that reasons are facts and that reasons can be discovered in deliberation and disclosed in advice. I argue that a plausible theory of this kind must take into account the difference between synchronic and diachronic reasons, i.e. reasons for acting immediately and reasons for acting at some later point in time. I (...)
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  • The “Ought” Implies “Can” Principle: A Challenge to Collective Intentionality.Guglielmo Feis - 2012 - Phenomenology and Mind 2:114-121.
    I investigate collective intentionality (CI) through the “Ought” implies “Can” (OIC) principle. My leading question is does OIC impose any further requirement on CI? In answering the challenge inside a Searlean framework, I realize that we need to clarify what CI's structure is and what kind of role the agents joining a CI-act have. In the last part of the paper, I put forward an (inverted) Hartian framework to allow the Searlean CI theory to be agent sensitive and cope with (...)
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  • The Duty to Join Forces: When Individuals Lack Control.Frank Hindriks - 2019 - The Monist 102 (2):204-220.
    Some harms are such that they cannot be prevented by a single individual because she lacks the requisite control. Because of this, no individual has the obligation to do so. It may be, however, that the harm can be prevented when several individuals combine their efforts. I argue that in many such situations each individual has a duty to join forces: to approach others, convince them to contribute, and subsequently make a coordinated effort to prevent the harm. A distinctive feature (...)
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