David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Utilitas 9 (02):241-248 (1997)
Objective consequentialism is often criticized because it is impossible to know which of our actions will have the best consequences. Why exactly does this undermine objective consequentialism? I offer a new link between the claim that our knowledge of the future is limited and the rejection of objective consequentialism: that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ and we cannot produce the best consequences available to us. I support this apparently paradoxical contention by way of an analogy. I cannot beat Karpov at chess in spite of the fact that I can make each of many series of moves, at least one of which would beat him. I then respond to a series of objections. In the process I develop an account of the ‘can’ of ability. I conclude with some remarks about the bearing this attack has on subjective consequentialism.
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Citations of this work BETA
Fred Feldman (2006). Actual Utility, the Objection From Impracticality, and the Move to Expected Utility. Philosophical Studies 129 (1):49 - 79.
Peter B. M. Vranas (2007). I Ought, Therefore I Can. Philosophical Studies 136 (2):167 - 216.
Rob van Someren Greve (2014). The Value of Practical Usefulness. Philosophical Studies 168 (1):167-177.
Rob van Someren Greve (2014). 'Ought', 'Can', and Fairness. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (5):913-922.
Eric Wiland (2005). Monkeys, Typewriters, and Objective Consequentialism. Ratio 18 (3):352–360.
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