The Iffiest Oughts: A Guise of Reasons Account of End‐Given Conditionals

Ethics 119 (4):672-698 (2009)
Abstract
It often seems that what one ought to do depends on what contingent ends one has adopted and the means to pursuing them. Imagine, for example, that you are applying for jobs, and a particularly attractive one comes your way. It offers excellent colleagues in a desirable location, the pay is good, and acquiring a job like this is one of your ends. If practicing your job talk is a means to getting the job, the following seems true: (1) If you want1 to get the job, then you ought to practice your job talk. Let us call conditional ought sentences that purport to express an end in the antecedent and a means to the end in the consequent end-given oughts. Some end-given oughts run into the problem of detachment; i.e., some end-given oughts seem true, and yet we do not think the consequent by itself, detached from the conditional, is true even if the antecedent is true. Consider a case where you want revenge on Bill for some slight offense. You happen to have the opportunity to poison Bill’s drink while he is away, which is the only thing that would lead to his demise. What of: (2) If you want to kill Bill, then you ought to poison his drink. (2) runs up against the problem of detachment because of the following modus ponens argument: • If you want to kill Bill, then you ought to poison his drink. • You want to kill Bill. • Therefore, you ought to poison his drink. In fact, you ought not poison Bill’s drink. You ought to avoid him and seek counseling.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA
    Jacob Stegenga (2013). Probabilizing the End. Philosophical Studies 165 (1):95-112.
    Similar books and articles
    Markos Valaris (2012). Instrumental Rationality. European Journal of Philosophy 20 (4):n/a-n/a.
    Mark Schroeder (2004). The Scope of Instrumental Reason. Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):337–364.
    Matthew Chrisman (2008). Ought to Believe. Journal of Philosophy 105 (7):346-370.
    Niko Kolodny & John MacFarlane (2010). Ifs and Oughts. Journal of Philosophy 107 (3):115-143.
    Simon Robertson (2008). Not so Enticing Reasons. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (3):263 - 277.
    Stephen Finlay (2009). Oughts and Ends. Philosophical Studies 143 (3):315 - 340.
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2009-09-03

    Total downloads

    84 ( #12,386 of 1,089,053 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    2 ( #42,757 of 1,089,053 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.