The many ‘oughts’ of deliberation

Philosophical Studies 180 (9):2617-2637 (2023)
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Abstract

It is commonly recognized that ‘ought’ is a semantically flexible word admitting of more “objective” and more “subjective” senses. Which of these senses (if any) is the one that is of central concern in normative ethics? According to some philosophers, the sense ‘ought’ that is centrally at issue in normative ethics is the sense of ‘ought’ that features in the various ‘ought’ questions that rational subjects aim to answer when deliberating about what to do. An assumption of this proposal is that there is a single deliberative sense of ‘ought’ that is the focus of rational and morally conscientious deliberation. In this paper, I contest this assumption. I raise objections to various attempts at characterizing this alleged deliberative ‘ought’ (giving special attention to a sophisticated account from Kiesewetter (2017)) and argue that deliberation can serve rational decision-making even if it is not ultimately focused on some normatively privileged sense of ‘ought.’

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John Pittard
Yale University

Citations of this work

Rational Insight and Partisan Justification: Responding to Bogardus and Burton, Thurow, and Kvanvig.John Pittard - 2023 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 13 (4):325-360.

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References found in this work

Ought, Agents, and Actions.Mark Schroeder - 2011 - Philosophical Review 120 (1):1-41.
Ifs and Oughts.Niko Kolodny & John MacFarlane - 2010 - Journal of Philosophy 107 (3):115-143.
Ought, Agents, and Actions.Mark Schroeder - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (3):1-41.
What is a Reason to Act?Kieran Setiya - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (2):221-235.

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