Why it is Sometimes Fair to Blame Agents for Unavoidable Actions and Omissions


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.


42 Am. Phil. Q. 93 (2005)

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