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Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


E thics [related to owe, suggesting that something that is not being done should be done] A general word used in moral discourse as the principal expression of obligation and duty. Many moral philosophers consider “I ought to …” to be identical in meaning to “I am obligated to …” Major issues surround the notion of ought. Is there a kind of “ought” which is specifically moral and, if so, how does it relate to other kinds of “ought”? What is the relation between ought and is? In particular, can evaluative claims about what we ought to do be derived solely from factual claims? Does ought imply can or are there things which we ought to attempt to do even if we know that we shall fail? Is the moral “ought” independent of other motives to action, such as sympathy or self-interest, and is the moral worth of what we do spoiled if we act on these other motives rather than through a recognition of the authority of this “ought”? The analysis of ought-statement is one of the main topics of prescriptivism. “If the analysis of ‘ought’ which I have just sketched bears any close relation to the use of ‘ought’ in ordinary language, it shows how it is that moral judgements provide reasons for acting in one way rather than another.” Hare, The Language of Morals ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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