Philosophia 48 (1):83-94 (2020)

Authors
Wesley Buckwalter
University of Manchester
Abstract
A standard principle in ethics is that moral obligation entails ability, or that “ought implies can”. A strong case has been made that this principle is not well motivated in moral psychology. This paper presents an analogous case against the theoretical motivation for the principle. The principle is in tension with several foundational areas of ethical theorizing, including research on apologies, excuses, promises, moral dilemmas, moral language, disability, and moral agency. Across each of these areas, accepting the principle that obligation entails ability creates a theoretical problem that is more easily solved by rejecting it rather than accepting it. I conclude that the motivation for the principle is weak and that “ought implies can” should be rejected in ethics on theoretical grounds.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s11406-019-00083-7
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 52,919
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

Experimental Philosophy and Philosophical Intuition.Ernest Sosa - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 132 (1):99-107.
Assertion, Knowledge, and Rational Credibility.Igor Douven - 2006 - Philosophical Review 115 (4):449-485.
I Ought, Therefore I Can.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (2):167-216.

View all 53 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Implicit Attitudes and the Ability Argument.Wesley Buckwalter - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (11):2961-2990.
How to Play the “Playing God” Card.Moti Mizrahi - 2020 - Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (3):1445-1461.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Ability, Responsibility, and Global Justice.Wesley Buckwalter - 2017 - Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research 34 (3):577-590.
'Ought' and Ability.P. A. Graham & Peter Graham - 2011 - Philosophical Review 120 (3):337-382.
Demandingness, "Ought", and Self-Shaping.Cullity Garrett - 2016 - In Marcel van Ackeren Michael Kuhler (ed.), The Limits of Moral Obligation: Moral Demandingness and Ought Implies Can. London: Routledge. pp. 147-62.
‘Ought’, ‘Can’, and Fairness.Rob van Someren Greve - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (5):913-922.
Consequentialism and the "Ought Implies Can" Principle.Elinor Mason - 2003 - American Philosophical Quarterly 40 (4):319-331.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2019-06-11

Total views
31 ( #317,008 of 2,343,529 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
10 ( #62,573 of 2,343,529 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes