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ought implies can

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


E thics A formula in Kant 's ethics, meaning that correctly judging that a given agent is morally obliged to perform a certain action logically presupposes that the agent can perform it. He can perform it not just if he wants, prefers, or wills to, but in some absolute sense. This capacity is a categorical freedom in contrast to the hypothetical freedom defended by Hume and others, for it is freedom both to do and to forbear doing a certain action under the same set of conditions. “Perhaps all that the formula ‘ought implies can’ means is that it would be pointless to issue an imperative if it were impossible that the imperative should be obeyed.” Pap, Elements of Analytic Philosophy ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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