Does ought imply can?

Kurthy, Miklos, Lawford-Smith, Holly and Sousa, Paulo (2017) Does ought imply can? PLoS One, 12 (4). ISSN 1932-6203

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Most philosophers believe that a person can have an obligation only insofar as she is able to fulfil it, a principle generally referred to as “Ought Implies Can”. Arguably, this principle reflects something basic about the ordinary concept of obligation. However, in a paper published recently in this journal, Wesley Buckwalter and John Turri presented evidence for the conclusion that ordinary people in fact reject that principle. With a series of studies, they claimed to have demonstrated that, in people’s judgements, obligations persist irrespective of whether those who hold them have the ability to fulfil them. We argue in this paper that due to some problems in their design, Buckwalter & Turri’s conclusions may not be warranted. We present the results of a series of studies demonstrating the problems with their design and showing that, with an improved design, people judge that obligation depends on ability after all.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > UEA Experimental Philosophy Group
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 21 May 2024 10:30
Last Modified: 24 May 2024 07:30
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175206

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