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Shaping the Normative Landscape$
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David Owens

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199691500

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691500.001.0001

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(p.68) 3 Obligation
Shaping the Normative Landscape

David Owens

Oxford University Press

Should we breach an obligation, we are subject to blame. Obligation also shapes our practical deliberation about whether to discharge the obligation. According to the Sanction Theory of Obligation, blame acts as an incentive to ensure performance of the obligation. In fact it is not the prospect of blame that gets the conscientious person to discharge their obligations. Rather obligation shapes the deliberations of the conscientious person by getting them to exclude certain considerations from those deliberations. The accounts of exclusion offered by T. M. Scanlon and Joseph Raz are examined and rejected. Rather it is proposed that obligation pre-empts practical deliberation in the same way as habit (rather than policy). The logic of exclusion makes room for the possibility of moral dilemmas, of situations in which whatever you do, you wrong someone.

Keywords:   Joseph Raz, T. M. Scanlon, practical deliberation, exclusion, sanction-theory, rationalism about obligation, policy, habit, moral dilemma

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