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In ‘The Rejection of Objective Consequentialism’ I argued against objective consequentialism on the grounds that it requires us to do what we cannot do and hence violates the principle that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’. Erik Carlson and Mozaffar Qizilbash have raised objections to my arguments, chiefly by distinguishing different senses of ‘can’ and ‘ought’. I here attempt to rebut those challenges.
Objective consequentialism is often criticized because it is impossible to know which of our actions will have the best consequences. Why exactly does this undermine objective consequentialism? I offer a new link between the claim that our knowledge of the future is limited and the rejection of objective consequentialism: that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ and we cannot produce the best consequences available to us. I support this apparently paradoxical contention by way of an analogy. I cannot beat Karpov at chess in spite of the fact that I can make each of many series of moves, at least one of which would beat him. I then respond to a series of objections. In the process I develop an account of the ‘can’ of ability. I conclude with some remarks about the bearing this attack has on subjective consequentialism.
Agnes's brakes fail. Should she continue straight into the busy intersection or should she swerve into the field? Add to the story, what Agnes does not and cannot know, that continuing into the intersection will cause no harm, whereas swerving into the apparently empty field will cause a death. I evaluate arguments for the claim that she should enter the intersection, i.e. for objectivism about right and wrong; and arguments for the claim that she should swerve, i.e. for subjectivism about right and wrong, and conclude that subjectivism is more plausible. I also consider the view that ‘ought’ and ‘wrong’ are systematically ambiguous, that she subjectively ought to swerve and that she objectively ought to enter the intersection. I argue that most versions of this suggestion are unworkable, and that even the best version is less plausible than pure subjectivism.
Many Christian theodicists believe that God's creating us with the capacity to love Him and each other justifies, in large part, God's permitting evil. For example, after reminding us that, according to Christian doctrine, the supreme good for human beings is to enter into a reciprocal love relationship with God, Vincent Brümmer recently wrote:
In creating human persons in order to love them, God necessarily assumes vulnerability in relation to them. In fact, in this relation, he becomes even more vulnerable than we do, since he cannot count on the steadfastness of our love the way we can count on his steadfastness… If God did not grant us the ability to sin and cause affliction to him and to one another, we would not have the kind of free and autonomous existence necessary to enter into a relation of love with God and with one another… Far from contradicting the value which the free will defence places upon the freedom and responsibility of human persons, the idea of a loving God necessarily entails it. In this way we can see that the free will defence is based on the love of God rather than on the supposed intrinsic value of human freedom and responsibility.
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