Cognition 150:20-25 (2016)

Authors
Paul Henne
Lake Forest College
Abstract
Recently, psychologists have explored moral concepts including obligation, blame, and ability. While little empirical work has studied the relationships among these concepts, philosophers have widely assumed such a relationship in the principle that “ought” implies “can,” which states that if someone ought to do something, then they must be able to do it. The cognitive underpinnings of these concepts are tested in the three experiments reported here. In Experiment 1, most participants judge that an agent ought to keep a promise that he is unable to keep, but only when he is to blame for the inability. Experiment 2 shows that such “ought” judgments correlate with judgments of blame, rather than with judgments of the agent’s ability. Experiment 3 replicates these findings for moral “ought” judgments and finds that they do not hold for nonmoral “ought” judgments, such as what someone ought to do to fulfill their desires. These results together show that folk moral judgments do not conform to a widely assumed philosophical principle that “ought” implies “can.” Instead, judgments of blame play a modulatory role in some judgments of obligation.
Keywords Ought implies can  Ought  Can  Ability  Blame  Obligation  Experimental Philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.cognition.2016.01.013
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

I Ought, Therefore I Can.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (2):167-216.
Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.

View all 20 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Dilemmic Epistemology.Nick Hughes - 2019 - Synthese 196 (10):4059-4090.
Implicit Attitudes and the Ability Argument.Wesley Buckwalter - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (11):2961-2990.

View all 18 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Force and Fairness of Blame.Pamela Hieronymi - 2004 - Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):115–148.
Polishing Up the Pinto.John R. Danley - 2005 - Business Ethics Quarterly 15 (2):205-236.
Intentionality, Morality, and Their Relationship in Human Judgment.Bertram Malle - 2006 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 6 (1-2):61-86.
Moral Competence, Moral Blame, and Protest.Matthew Talbert - 2012 - The Journal of Ethics 16 (1):89-109.
Moral Obligation, Blame, and Self-Governance.John Skorupski - 2010 - Social Philosophy and Policy 27 (2):158-180.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2016-02-04

Total views
189 ( #46,308 of 2,343,627 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
25 ( #27,109 of 2,343,627 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes