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Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics: Volume 3$
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Mark Timmons

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199685905

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199685905.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 26 June 2022

What We Know and What We Owe

What We Know and What We Owe

(p.235) 10 What We Know and What We Owe
Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics: Volume 3

Vanessa Carbonell

Oxford University Press

Knowledge is necessary for certain moral obligations. In learning something new, one sometimes triggers a moral obligation. This chapter argues that the existence of these knowledge-based obligations poses a problem for the view that we are not only free to choose the course of our own lives, including our careers and personal projects, but also free to change our minds and quit at any time to pursue something else. For if our choice of life path has generated knowledge-based moral obligations that we must fulfill, then it is apparently not true that we can quit at any time. To resolve this tension, this chapter proposes a relatively demanding set of conditions under which it is permissible to swap one career or life project for another. The resulting compromise reconciles the moral force of knowledge-based obligations with the basic freedom to choose less-than-optimal careers and projects. It also highlights the distinctive role played by knowledge and expertise in generating the intractable problem of morality’s demandingness.

Keywords:   knowledge, expertise, moral obligation, demandingness, consequentialism, personal projects, ought implies can

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