Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (4):641 - 656 (2012)

Authors
Derek Baker
Lingnan University
Abstract
Are there cases in which agents ought to give up on satisfying an obligation, so that they can avoid a temptation which will lead them to freely commit an even more significant wrong? Actualists say yes. Possibilists say no. Both positions have absurd consequences. This paper argues that common-sense morality is committed to an inconsistent triad of principles. This inconsistency becomes acute when we consider the cases that motivate the possibilism?actualism debate. Thus, the absurd consequences of both solutions are unsurprising: any proposed solution will have consequences incompatible with common moral practice. Arguments for denying one of the principles are considered and rejected. The paper then suggests that the inconsistent moral commitments originate in an inconsistent picture of human agency. Revisionary pictures of human agency are considered. It is argued that a quasi-Platonic picture of agency, similar to that advocated by Gary Watson 1977, is the most promising
Keywords Free will  Weakness of will  Professor Procrastinate
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DOI 10.1080/00048402.2011.617761
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References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford University Press.
Free Agency.Gary Watson - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (April):205-20.
Skepticism About Practical Reason.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 83 (1):5-25.

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Citations of this work BETA

Moral Obligations: Actualist, Possibilist, or Hybridist?Travis Timmerman & Yishai Cohen - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4):672-686.
How to Be an Actualist and Blame People.Travis Timmerman & Philip Swenson - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility 6.
Actualism and Possibilism in Ethics.Travis Timmerman & Yishai Cohen - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Actualism Has Control Issues.Yishai Cohen & Travis Timmerman - 2016 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 10 (3):1-18.

View all 10 citations / Add more citations

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