“Cannot” implies “not ought”

Philosophical Studies 130 (2):233 - 246 (2006)
I argue for a version of “ought” implies “can”. In particular, I argue that it is necessarily true that if an agent, S, ultima facie ought to do A at T’, then there is a time T* such that S can at T* do A at T’. In support of this principle, I have argued that without it, we cannot explain how it is that, in cases where agents cannot do the best thing, they often ought to do some alternative action – such as get help or do the promised action later; nor can we explain the phenomenon of necessary enablers or the phenomenon of more stringent prima facie obligations overriding less stringent ones in cases where the agent cannot fulfill both.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Philosophy of Mind   Philosophy of Religion
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DOI 10.2307/4321797
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