Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ought & can

There's been too much to do to post lately, but I thought I'd do a quick post. I'm not really sure what I think of 'ought' implies 'can', but I'd be curious to know whether people who found that principle attractive would also be attracted to 'ought' implies 'can for the right reasons'. Here's the basic idea. Suppose you oughtn't A, or that you ought to refrain from A-ing. There's some reason or reasons in light of which you ought to refrain from A-ing. If you couldn't A or refrain for the right sort of reasons, there would seem to be nothing we could assume that would be 'around' so to speak to ensure that we can successfully bring it about that we do what we ought to do. But, a principle such as this one, if true, cannot be true as a matter of luck. So, if OIC is true, it had better be that the reasons in light of which you oughtn't/ought are reasons in light of which you can. So, if this is right, it seems we can test proposals about whether some reasons bear on whether one ought to A by testing to see if these are reasons in light of which we can A. Right?

Here's a case where this might be relevant. Suppose someone says that morally you oughtn't believe something. According to the extended version of OIC, this can be true only if you can refrain from believing because of the moral reasons. But, as you can't, it can't be that you morally oughtn't believe.

I doubt this is particularly important, but I haven't had coffee yet. Off for coffee and grading.

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