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Moral Incapacity and Deliberation

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Was Luther avowing a genuine moral incapacity when he claimed that he could do no other? Bernard Williams has distinguished moral from psychological incapacity in terms of deliberation. There are three particular difficulties for the notion: in addition to (1) scepticism about whether the agent is genuinely incapable, there are (2) the possibility of conflicting moral incapacities, and (3) apparent cases where there is no actual or possible deliberation. If (1) can be countered, (2) can be met by ceteris paribus clauses, and it is shown that these do not remove the element of necessity. And (3) can be met by showing how possible deliberation is involved in putative counter-examples. Williams' account needs to be augmented to deal with cases of the morally unthinkable, and refined to allow for incipient attempts to do the morally impossible

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Nottingham

Publication date: 1999-03-01

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