how To Motivate The Maxim That 'ought' Implies 'can' To Defend The Principle Of Alternate Possibilities

Florida Philosophical Review 9 (2):26-37 (2009)

Sean Armil
University of Arizona
David Copp argues that the Principle of Alternate Possibilities, which states that an agent is only morally blameworthy for doing A if she could have done something other than A, can be derived from the Maxim that “ought” implies “can.” On Copp’s formulation of the Maxim, an agent is all-in morally required not to do A only if she can do something other than A. Copp supports the Maxim with an argument from fairness and an argument based on the point of moral requirements. John Martin Fischer thinks that both of these supporting arguments are flawed, and that the Maxim is false. In this paper, I examine Fischer’s rejection of the Maxim, and conclude that both of Copp’s motivations for the Maxim are sound
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