Determinism, ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’ and Moral Obligation

Dialectica 74 (1):35-62. (2020)
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Haji argues that determinism threatens deontic morality, not via a threat to moral responsibility, but directly, because of the principle that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’. Haji’s argument requires not only that we embrace an ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ principle, but also that we adopt the principle that ‘ought’ implies ‘able not to’. I argue that we have little reason to adopt the latter principle, and examine whether deontic morality might be destroyed on the basis of the more commonly embraced ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ principle alone. I argue that despite what look like initially compelling reasons why we might suppose that this weaker conclusion is similarly destructive to deontic morality, we actually have good reason to doubt that it has any practical relevance for moral deliberation at all.

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