Power, Scepticism and Ethical Theory

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 76:225-251 (2015)
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It is often thought that as human agents we have a power to determine our actions for ourselves. And a natural conception of this power is as freedom – a power over alternatives so that we can determine for ourselves which of a variety of possible actions we perform. But what is the real content of this conception of freedom, and need self-determination take this particular form? I examine the possible forms self-determination might take, and the various ways freedom as a power over alternatives might be constituted. I argue that though ordinary ethical thought, and especially moral blame, may be committed to our possession of some capacity for self-determination, the precise nature of this power is probably ethically underdetermined – though conceptions of the nature of the power that come from outside ethics may then have important implications for ethics.



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Tom Pink
King's College London

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References found in this work

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.John Locke - 1979 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 169 (2):221-222.
Involuntary sins.Robert Merrihew Adams - 1985 - Philosophical Review 94 (1):3-31.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.H. R. Smart - 1925 - Philosophical Review 34 (4):413.

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