|Actions and Events
||Kent Bach has argued that certain traditional problems of action theory (concerning the individuation of actions, their timing, their location, and the manner in which they enter into causal relations) arise only on the supposition that actions are e...
|Another Plea for Excuses
||It has been almost fifty years since J. L. Austin made his famous plea for excuses before an audience of the Aristotelian Society. Austin's plea was not that we recognize the possibility of having an excuse for wrongful behavior; he took this possibi...
|'Can,' Compatibilism, and Possible Worlds
||Most compatibilists have sought to defend their view by means of an analysis of the concept of 'can' in terms of subjunctive conditionals.1 Keith Lehrer opposes this analysis;2 he nevertheless embraces compatibilism.3 In a recent paper he has propose...
|Controlling Ignorance: A Bitter Truth
||When Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolf Höss had over two million people put to death, he was not to blame. When Adolf Eichmann delivered victim after victim to the concentration camps, he was not to blame. When William Calley led the massacre of hundr...
|Cooperation and Doing the Best One Can
||That one ought morally to do the best one can is a view that enjoys a rich history of support.1 Its most famous incarnation is act utilitarianism, according to which one ought to produce the most favorable balance of pleasure over pain that one can. ...
|Evaluatively Incomplete States of Affairs
||The main point of this paper has been to show that the concept of evaluative incompleteness deserves consideration. In addition, I have suggested that it is plausible to accept that certain states of affairs in fact are evaluatively incomplete. But I...
|Feldman on the Nature and Value of Pleasure
||Fred Feldman is the Roger Federer of philosophy. His strokes are crisp and clean, his shots deep and penetrating, his finesse dazzling. And he makes it all look so easy! Pleasure and the Good Life is just the latest in a long line of works that are p...
|The Good and the Right
||T. M. Scanlon has revived a venerable tradition according to which something’s being
good consists in its being such that there is a reason to respond positively towards it.
He has presented novel arguments for this thesis. In this article, I first...
|In Defense of the Concept of Intrinsic Value
||The concept of intrinsic value has enjoyed a long, rich history. From the time of the ancient Greeks to the present day, philosophers have placed it at the foundation of much of their theorizing. This is especially true of G.E. Moore, who made it the...
|Intervening Agents and Moral Responsibility
||If some bracken has caught fire because someone has thrown a lighted cigarette into it and, just as the flames are about to flicker out, you deliberately pour petrol on them, then you and you alone will be to blame for the ensuing forest-fire. If, as...
|Is Moral Obligation Objective or Subjective?
||Many philosophers hold that whether an act is overall morally obligatory is an ‘objective’
matter, many that it is a ‘subjective’ matter, and some that it is both. The idea that it
is or can be both may seem to promise a helpful answer to the quest...
|Lapses and Dilemmas
||A moral dilemma occurs when there are several actions which cannot all be performed, although each can be and each ought to be. Recent discussion of the possibility and implications of
moral dilemmas has focused on those dilemmas where the sense of ...
|Luck and Moral Responsibility
||Considerable attention has recently been given to what has come to be called moral luck. It has been claimed that recognition of this phenomenon
imperils the received conception of moral responsibility; some, indeed, have said that this conception m...
|Mill and the Consistency of Hedonism
||Hedonism, it is sometimes claimed, is irredeemably vulgar; for it implies that there is nothing noble in life, that the pleasures that life affords are to be equally valued, no matter what their object. In his book Utilitarianism John Stuart Mill tak...
|The Moral Aspect of Nonmoral Goods and Evils
||The idea that immoral behaviour can sometimes be admirable, and that moral
behaviour can sometimes be less than admirable, has led several of its supporters to
infer that moral considerations are not always overriding, contrary to what has been
|Moral Luck: A Partial Map
||Luck varies from person to person, for two reasons. First, for something to occur as a matter of luck is for it to occur beyond the control of someone, and what is beyond one person's control may not be beyond another's. Second, luck may be either go...
|Moral Responsibility and Ignorance
||This paper defends the view that moral responsibility for behavior of whose moral wrongness one is ignorant occurs less frequently than is commonly supposed. Its central argument is this. If one is culpable for ignorant behavior, then one is culpable...
|Moral Responsibility, Freedom, and Alternate Possibilities
||The paper opened with a story about Peter, Paul, and a locked door. Certain rough morals were seen to be perhaps derivable from the story. But the morals were too rough and required refinement. When they were refined, it became clear that the origina...
|Negligence and Moral Responsibility
||It is commonly accepted that one can be morally responsible for negligent behavior and its consequences. It is also commonly accepted that one cannot be morally responsible for occurrences over which one had no control. It is not clear how these beli...
|Obligation, Responsibility, and Alternate Possibilities
||Harry Frankfurt is well-known for his argument, in , against the Principle of Alternate Possibilities: "(PAP) A person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise." In , pp. 95-96, he argues that the rejecti...
|On the Fulfillment of Moral Obligation
||This paper considers three general views about the nature of moral obligation and three particular answers (with which these views are typically associated) concerning the following question: if on Monday you lend me a book that I promise to return t...
|On the Intrinsic Value of States of Pleasure
||Is pleasure good? Is displeasure bad? On first consulting our moral intuitions we receive, I think, no clear-cut answers to these questions, and therein lies the problem that I wish to investigate. In pursuing this investigation I shall not attempt t...
|A Plea for Accuses
||Ever since J. L. Austin's famous "plea for excuses," if not before, the standard account of the distinction between a justification and an excuse has been this: one has a justification for what one has done just in case one did not do wrong in doing ...
|A Plea for Ambivalence
||Someone who can commit a wrong but deliberately refrains from doing so warrants a sort of moral recognition that someone who is constitutionally unable to commit the wrong does not....
|Prima Facie Obligation and Doing the Best One Can
||I believe that one ought, morally, to do the best one can. This is, of course, controversial. I don't propose to debate the issue here, however, but wish rather to address a related one: how such a theory of absolute obligation — a "maximizing" theor...
|Propositional Quantification and the Prosentential Theory of Truth
||In their paper 'A prosentential theory of truth' Grover, Camp and Belnap propound a theory of truth which is essentially a modified version of Ramsey's redundancy theory of truth. In this paper I shall not seek to deter-mine whether or not the prosen...
|The Range of Options
||What options we have in a situation can clearly be of great moral significance. I shall argue that our options are far more restricted than is commonly thought. If I am right, then my argument has important moral implications....
||In this paper I shall draw a distinction between what I shall call remote and immediate moral obligation. The distinction sheds light on the issues of whether "ought" implies "can" and of whether there can be any genuine moral dilemmas, but it also c...
|Responsibility and Awareness
||George Sher's book1 provides an elegant, concise, and subtle elaboration and defense of the epistemic component of that conception of responsibility that would appear to underlie our everyday ascriptions of responsibility. It is by far the...
|Responsibility Regarding the Unthinkable
||Connie is walking down Main Street. From a distance, she sees a young child screaming for help, blood pouring from a gash in his head. There are many other pedestrians on the street but, to Connie's amazement and horror, they ignore the child's pleas...
|Responsibility, Reaction, and Value
||Many writers accept the following thesis about responsibility: (R) For one to be responsible for something is for one to be such that it is fitting that one be the object of some reactive attitude with respect to that thing. This thesis bears a strik...
|Rights, Compensation, and Culpability
||Philosophers and laymen alike are strongly attracted to the view that the infringement of a right calls for compensation....
|Risk, Rights, and Restitution
||In "Imposing Risks," Judith Thomson gives a case in which, by turning on her stove, she accidentally causes her neighbor's death. She claims that both the following are true: (1) she ought not to have caused her neighbor's death; (2) it was permissib...
||Talk of two or more people sharing responsibility for an outcome is very common. As I shall try to show, it can also be very misleading. I am concerned here with moral responsibility only and not with legal responsibility. I am concerned, too, only w...
||What is conditional obligation and under what circumstances may an absolute obligation be detached from a conditional obligation? These questions have recently been much discussed. I think that a very plausible answer has been given to the first ques...
|Supererogation and doing the best one can
||A thorough philosophical inquiry into supererogation would need to deal with the following four questions. What is the nature of supererogation? Are supererogatory acts possible? Do they actually occur? Are those acts that we commonly call supereroga...
|Taking Luck Seriously
||Suppose someone were to say to you, "Look, I grant that moral responsibility requires freedom and that freedom requires alternate possibilities. Nonetheless, it's perfectly possible for someone to be morally responsible even in the absence of alterna...
|Taking Some of the Mystery out of Omissions
||Philosophers often talk of acts of omission, but such talk is immediately puzzling; for omissions (of all sorts) appear to be paradigms of not-doing rather than doing, even though no omission is merely a not-doing. But, as I shall seek to show, altho...
|Understanding What's Good for Us
||The ancient question of what a good life consists in is currently the focus of intense debate. There are two aspects to this debate: the first concerns how the concept of a good life is to be understood; the second concerns what kinds of life fall wi...
|Virtual Intrinsic Value and the Principle of Organic Unities
||This paper argues that Moore's principle of organic unities is false. Advocates of the principle have failed to take note of the distinction between actual intrinsic value and virtual intrinsic value. Purported cases of organic unities, where the act...
|Where Did I Go Wrong?
||The list is long of those who, in the history of ethics, have advocated the thesis that what one ought to do is the best that one can do. This thesis has had its detractors, of course. I wish, however, not to defend it against external attacks but to...