Moral rights and the limits of the ought-implies-can principle: Why impeccable precautions are no excuse

Abstract
This essay argues against the commonly held view that "ought" implies "can" in the domain of morality. More specifically, I contest the notion that nobody should ever be held morally responsible for failing to avoid the infliction of any harm that he or she has not been able to avoid through all reasonably feasible precautions in the carrying out of some worthwhile activity. The article explicates the concept of a moral right in order to show why violations of moral rights can occur even when no one has acted wrongfully in any fashion. In so doing, it will effectively be maintaining that strict liability (i.e., liability irrespective of the presence or absence of culpability) exists in morality as well as in law. When we take account of the distinction between exoneration and extenuation, we can see that scrupulously thorough precautions are never sufficient to constitute an excuse in morality. Having made that point with some extended examples, the article goes on to consider a number of possible objections - objections that lead into discussions of some basic distinctions within moral philosophy and some central principles within deontic logic.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/00201750510022844
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,165
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Collective Rights and Minority Rights.Seumas Miller - 2000 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 14 (2):241-257.
Neo-Positivism About Rights the Problem with 'Rights as Enforceable Claims'.Saladin Meckled-Garcia - 2004 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (1):143–148.
How Do We Acquire Parental Rights?Joseph Millum - 2010 - Social Theory and Practice 36 (1):112-132.
Mill's Proof That Happiness is the Criterion of Morality.Fred Wilson - 1982 - Journal of Business Ethics 1 (1):59 - 72.
Defending the Right To Do Wrong.Ori J. Herstein - 2012 - Law and Philosophy 31 (3):343-365.
Intrinsic Limitations of Property Rights.J. M. Elegido - 1995 - Journal of Business Ethics 14 (5):411 - 416.
Where Law and Morality Meet.H. Kramer Matthew - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
Excusing Mistakes of Law.Gideon Yaffe - 2009 - Philosophers' Imprint 9 (2):1-22.

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

87 ( #60,141 of 2,172,020 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #325,967 of 2,172,020 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums