Actions That We Ought, But Can't

Ratio 27 (3):316-327 (2013)
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Abstract

It is commonly assumed that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’, that is, that if we ought to do something, then it must be the case that we can do it. It is a frequent quip about this thesis that any account must specify three things: what is meant by the ‘ought’, what is meant by the ‘implies’, and what is meant by the ‘can’. Something is missed, though, when we state the thesis in its shortened, three-word form. We overlook what it means to do something. It is, I think, not mere coincidence that nobody has discussed this issue: It is very difficult to specify what it means to do something in the relevant sense. This paper is devoted to fleshing out one way of doing something that is a problem for the thesis

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Alex King
Simon Fraser University

Citations of this work

Opting for the Best: Oughts and Options.Douglas W. Portmore - 2019 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
Maximalism and Moral Harmony.Douglas W. Portmore - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2):318-341.
Aesthetic Reasons and the Demands They (Do Not) Make.Daniel Whiting - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (2):407-427.

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References found in this work

Involuntary sins.Robert Merrihew Adams - 1985 - Philosophical Review 94 (1):3-31.
Impossibility and morals.James Ward Smith - 1961 - Mind 70 (279):362-375.
Blame for traits.George Sher - 2001 - Noûs 35 (1):146–161.

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