Blameworthiness Implies 'Ought Not'

Philosophical Studies:1-21 (2024)
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Abstract

Here is a crucial principle for debates about moral luck, responsibility, and free will: a subject is blameworthy for an act only if, in acting, she did what she ought not to have done. That is, ‘blameworthiness’ implies ‘ought not’ (BION). There are some good reasons to accept BION, but whether we should accept it depends on complex questions about the objectivity of ought and the subjectivity of blameworthiness. This paper offers an exploratory defence of BION: it gives three prima facie reasons to accept it, provides a plausible interpretation of it, and shows how holding out against objections can yield fruitful lessons. Five objections to BION are considered: the objection from conscience, from reasons, from suberogation, from objectivity, and from excuses. Their main problem is to either over-subjectify blameworthiness or to over-objectify obligations. To accept BION, we must occupy a desirable middle ground.

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Simon-Pierre Chevarie-Cossette
Université de Neuchâtel

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