The Best Argument for 'Ought Implies Can' Is a Better Argument Against 'Ought Implies Can'

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 3 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

To argue that “ought” implies “can,” one can appeal to general principles or to intuitions about specific cases. One general truism that seems to show that “ought” implies “can” is that obligations must be able to guide action, and putative obligations that are unfulfillable are unable to do so. This paper argues that obligations that are unfulfillable can still guide action, and that moral theories which reject the principle that “ought” implies “can” are actually better able to account for how obligations guide than theories which endorse “ought” implies “can.” The paper also argues that any intuitions about specific cases that seem to provide evidence that “ought” implies “can” do not actually give us this evidence. Rather, these intuitions pose similar problems for theories which accept “ought” implies “can” as they pose for theories which reject the principle. Some theories which reject “ought” implies “can” will fit our intuitions at least as well, if not better, than theories which accept it. So, intuitions do not favor accepting that “ought” implies “can,” and appeal to general principles favors its denial.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,363

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Ought Does Not Imply Can.Paul Saka - 2000 - American Philosophical Quarterly 37 (2):93 - 105.
Π12 Wadge degrees.Greg Hjorth - 1996 - Annals of Pure and Applied Logic 77 (1):53-74.
Logical Determinism, Causal Determinism, and Free Will.Toby Castleton - 1992 - Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Does Kant Hold that Ought Implies Can?Shyam Ranganathan - 2010 - In J. Sharma & A. Raguramaraju (eds.), Grounding Morality. Routledge. pp. 60-87.
Van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument.Michael Huemer - 2000 - Philosophical Review 109 (4):525-544.
Closure On Skepticism.Sherrilyn Roush - 2010 - Journal of Philosophy 107 (5):243-256.
Mill's proof that happiness is the criterion of morality.Fred Wilson - 1982 - Journal of Business Ethics 1 (1):59 - 72.
Impossible Obligations are not Necessarily Deliberatively Pointless.Christopher Jay - 2013 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (3pt3):381-389.

Analytics

Added to PP
2016-10-06

Downloads
81 (#152,258)

6 months
2 (#299,675)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Brian Talbot
University of Colorado, Boulder

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references