[Comment] A brief note on the ambiguity of ‘ought’. Reply to Moti Mizrahi’s ‘Ought, Can and Presupposition: An Experimental Study’.

Methode: Analytic Perspectives 4 (6):244-249 (2015)

Holly Lawford-Smith
University of Melbourne
Moti Mizrahi provides experimental evidence according to which subjects judge that a person ought to ? even when she cannot ?. He takes his results to constitute a falsification of the alleged intuitiveness of the ‘Ought Implies Can’ principle. We point out that in the light of the fact that (a) ‘ought’ is multiply ambiguous, that (b) only a restricted set of readings of ‘ought’ will be relevant to the principle, and that (c) he did not instruct his subjects appropriately – or otherwise ensure that in their ‘ought’ judgements they applied the relevant concept(s) – Mizrahi’s conclusions appear premature. We suggest two ways in which the experimental design could be adjusted or supplemented. First, Mizrahi could instruct (or prime) subjects to read the ‘ought’ question in a particular way. Second, he could complement his experiment by asking follow-up questions aimed at uncovering the implications for blame of subjects’ judgements. Once these adjustments are applied, an experiment with a similar outcome would be more significant.
Keywords Ought implies Can  Experimental  Blame  Moral judgements
Categories (categorize this paper)
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: 58,981
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

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Brief History of Experimental Ethics.Niklas Dworazik & Hannes Rusch - 2014 - In Christoph Luetge, Hannes Rusch & Matthias Uhl (eds.), Experimental Ethics. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 38-56.
Moral Judgments and Emotions: A Less Intimate Relationship Than Recently Claimed.Thomas Pölzler - 2015 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 35 (3):177-195.


Added to PP index

Total views
56 ( #182,446 of 2,427,432 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #533,878 of 2,427,432 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes