David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Philosophical Research 19:75-88 (1994)
This paper is about the failure of a particular strategy to overcome the problem of the gap between the moral demand and natural human capacities to meet that demand. The strategy is that of the optimist, who thinks that humans do in fact have the resources to empower themselves to Iive by the moral demand. A conspicuous optimist of this sort is Shelly Kagan, in his book The Limits of Morality. The optimist makes a counterfactual claim about morality: If all our beliefs were vivid, including especially our beliefs about the interests of others, we would tend to conform to the impartial standpoint (to what the utilitarian principle requires). This paper argues that the counterfactual claim is faIse
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