Global Obligations, Collective Capacities, and 'Ought Implies Can'

Philosophical Studies:1-16 (forthcoming)
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Abstract
The main business of this paper is to refute an objection to the idea that there might be obligations which fall on humanity as a whole where this phrase is understood as referring to obligations of which humanity as a whole is the bearer, rather than to obligations which fall on each individual moral agent. The view might also be expressed as the view that there are obligations which fall on everyone collectively, rather than distributively. The objection I wish to consider is that there cannot be obligations of this sort because humanity as a whole is not an agent, that there is a sense in which ‘ought implies can’, and that in this sense of can, only agents can do things. I shall argue that although we should concede that humanity as a whole is not an agent, the objection fails because it focusses on the wrong sense of the word ‘can’. There is a legitimate sense of the word ‘can’ on which non-agent collectives can do things, and it is this sense which is relevant to discussion of the ‘ought implies can’ principle
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Archival date: 2019-02-12
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References found in this work BETA
I Ought, Therefore I Can.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (2):167-216.
On Social Facts.Root, Michael & Gilbert, Margaret

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