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Title: Fairness, "ought implies can", and the origin of alternate possibilities
Author: Waters, Sam
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 954X
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2018
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The goal of this thesis is to set out an argument which demonstrates that the Principle of Alternate Possibilities (PAP), which holds that an agent may only be blameworthy for performing a given action if they were able to do otherwise than it, can be logically derived from a certain interpretation of the common moral principle that "ought implies can" (OIC). In pursuing this "Derivation", I follow David Copp in claiming that both PAP and OIC are in large part motivated by the same considerations about fairness and the role that our genuine moral obligations may play in our processes of moral deliberation. I begin by outlining a case in favour of my preferred sense of OIC which is grounded in these shared motivations, before protecting it from a varied range of counterexamples. I then turn my attention to defending what I call the "connecting premises" of the Derivation- a set of reasonably uncontroversial moral beliefs which, in conjunction with my understanding of OIC, show that PAP is true. In arguing for these premises, I draw on a broader normative picture in which our moral obligations, blameworthiness for failing in those obligations, and the morally relevant sense of ability which underpins both of them are inherently linked. I conclude my argument in support of the Derivation with an extensive discussion of the concept of fairness as it applies to discussions of blameworthiness and moral obligation, and develop the aforementioned normative picture into an argument that all genuine moral obligations are necessarily fair in this sense. Hence, the Derivation will serve not only as a proof of PAP, but also as evidence for an interrelated set of moral principles which govern the conditions under which an agent may be obligated to act and/or be correctly said to have acted wrongly
Supervisor: Makin, Steve ; Shemmer, Yonatan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available