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Thursday, October 19, 2017


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"I cannot stand under a moral obligation to do what which I do not have the power to do."

Compatibilists (weak determinists) about freedom and moral responsibility might deny that, right?

Also, others might distinguish two concepts of moral obligation: Suppose, just hypothetically, that given the laws and history of the universe, you must be mean to me. In a sense you are still obliged not to be mean, although you are blameless (here, compatibilists would disagree). Being mean, _you do_ moral wrong, although you do no moral bad.

Interesting that you've posted this after your post about being touched by grace. I wonder if that was planned or by accident.

Of course, Christians are called "be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect". But of course you're right that we as fallible humans can't perfect ourselves.

I don't understand. Compatibilists don't deny that people have abilities.

What is the difference between moral wrong and moral bad?


Not planned.

But I do have a post, which I cannot seem to locate, in which I present an arg for the ex of God based on the idea that we ought to perfect ourselves, cannot by our own power, therefore . . . .

"Not planned."

Well, maybe not by you :-)

God bless you. You're one of my favorites.


Compatibilists about moral responsibility deny you could have done otherwise even when what you did was wrong (and so you were obliged not to do it). Cf. youtube.com/watch?v=P-enqLRQU6s

The difference btw moral wrong and bad/evil: Morally wrong deeds are those that should not be done. Morally bad/evil deeds are those that are (freely) done with a genuine belief that they should not be done.

Important example:

Suppose we prevent a _huge_ amount of very terrible things if and only if we donate _much_ of our time or money to charities or other good causes. (This even seems true to me. Cf. blog.givewell.org/2015/11/06/the-lack-of-controversy-over-well-targeted-aid) The terrible things may be years and years of extreme poverty, or anything comparably (or even more) important.

Now, many say, even then it isn't wrong not to donate much. Else, we all act wrongly by not donating much. Which is absurd.

Now, I am far from sure it really is absurd. Perhaps, absurd is rather the claim that not giving much is bad/evil. Wrong need not be bad/evil. Similarly Richard Arneson in his paper "Moral limits on the demands of beneficence?" (2004): even "the morally perceptive affluent person, munching his croissants and fingering the keys to his fancy car, does not hold that it is morally justified that he enjoys the good life at the moral cost that others live avoidably wretched lives. His position is, 'Can you blame me?'"

I think we can -- in case he is free, despite his socialization etc., to donate much, and knows that he should donate. For in that case his not donating much is bad/evil and so blameworthy. But otherwise, we cannot.


Ought implies Can is not inconsistent with compatibilism. Perhaps you should tell me what Ought implies Can means.


It means, if S ought to φ at t, then S can φ at t, given the laws and history of the universe, including his own history, up to t' (the same as or preceding t).

Coompatibilists about moral responsibility deny this since they claim that in some cases S cannot φ at t, given the laws etc., yet is still morally responsible for his (morally wrong) not φ-ing at t.

Maybe all this needs some trimming, but it should be about right.

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