Authors
Wesley Buckwalter
George Mason University
Abstract
Many have argued we have a moral obligation to assist others in need, but given the scope of global suffering, how far does this obligation extend? According to one traditional philosophical view, the obligation to help others is limited by our ability to help them, or by the principle that “ought implies can”. This view is primarily defended on the grounds that it is a core principle of commonsense moral psychology. This paper reviews findings from experimental philosophy in cognitive science demonstrating that “ought implies can” is rejected by moral psychology. Researchers find that moral obligations are ascribed to agents who cannot fulfill them, suggesting that moral requirements do sometimes extend beyond what we are able to do. This research furthers our understanding of moral obligation, identifies an important need for further cross-cultural work in moral psychology, and demonstrates a way in which scientific experimentation can be applied to improve upon the conceptual analysis of important philosophical concepts in normative ethics.
Keywords ethics  assistance  demandingness  moral judgment  ability
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s40961-017-0120-z
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Oxford University Press USA.
I Ought, Therefore I Can.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (2):167-216.
Doxastic Compatibilism and the Ethics of Belief.Sharon Ryan - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 114 (1-2):47-79.

View all 27 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Implicit Attitudes and the Ability Argument.Wesley Buckwalter - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (11):2961-2990.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Climate Change, Responsibility, and Justice.Dale Jamieson - 2010 - Science and Engineering Ethics 16 (3):431-445.
A Feminist Account of Global Responsibility.Sarah Clark Miller - 2011 - Social Theory and Practice 37 (3):391-412.
Responsibility and Global Justice.Mathias Risse - 2017 - Ratio Juris 30 (1):41-58.
Cosmopolitan Justice, Responsibility, and Global Climate Change.Simon Caney - 2005 - Leiden Journal of International Law 18 (4):747-775.
Responsibility, Desert, and Justice.Carl Knight - 2011 - In Carl Knight & Zofia Stemplowska (eds.), Responsibility and Distributive Justice. Oxford University Press.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2017-08-09

Total views
156 ( #61,697 of 2,411,732 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
88 ( #7,189 of 2,411,732 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes