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Moral Writings$
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H. A. Prichard and Jim MacAdam

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199250196

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199250197.001.0001

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The Time of an Obligation

The Time of an Obligation

(p.268) 14. The Time of an Obligation
Moral Writings

H. A. Prichard

Oxford University Press

In discussing the fact that it takes time to perform an action, distinguishes statements such as ‘I shall do x’ from statements such as ‘I shall be under an obligation to do x’ and ‘I was doing x’ from ‘I was under an obligation to do x’. The truth of the ‘ought’ statements is independent of whether the action is done, as it is not necessary that one not do the action at the time required in order to be under an obligation to do it at that time. For some contrasts between ‘ought’ and ‘is’ statements, the obligation, such as the obligation to go to bed, refers to the future. The statement ‘I am under an obligation to go to bed’ is equivalent to ‘from now on I shall be under an obligation to go to bed’, and does not require either that I shall not do the action or that I have not done the action for it to be true.

Keywords:   action, future, obligation, ought, statement, time

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