Why It is Sometimes Fair to Blame Agents for Unavoidable Actions and Omissions
American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol 42, No 2, April 2005
12 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2014 Last revised: 9 Jan 2015
Date Written: January 19, 2014
It is generally thought that ought implies can. If this maxim is correct, then my inability to do otherwise entails that I cannot be blamed for failing to do otherwise. In this article, however, I use Harry Frankfurt’s famous argument against the "Principle of Alternative Possibilities" (PAP) to show that the maxim is actually false, that I can be blamed for failing to do otherwise even in situations where I could not have done otherwise. In these situations, I do not act otherwise not because I cannot act otherwise but because I choose not to act otherwise.
Keywords: Frankfurt, PAP, responsibility, blameworthy, ought implies can, power to choose otherwise
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