Non-ideal prescriptions for the morally uncertain

Philosophical Studies 179 (4):1039-1064 (2021)
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Morally speaking, what should one do when one is morally uncertain? Call this the Moral Uncertainty Question. In this paper, I argue that a non-ideal moral theory provides the best answer to the Moral Uncertainty Question. I begin by arguing for a strong ought-implies-can principle---morally ought implies agentially can---and use that principle to clarify the structure of a compelling non-ideal moral theory. I then describe the ways in which one's moral uncertainty affects one's moral prescriptions: moral uncertainty constrains the set of moral prescriptions one is subject to, and at the same time generates new non-ideal moral reasons for action. I end by surveying the problems that plague alternative answers to the Moral Uncertainty Question, and show that my preferred answer avoids most of those problems.

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Amelia Hicks
Kansas State University


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