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Opting for the BestOughts and Options$
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Douglas W. Portmore

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190945350

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190945350.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 January 2022

What Are Our Options?

What Are Our Options?

(p.49) Chapter 2 What Are Our Options?
Opting for the Best

Douglas W. Portmore

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that whereas any event can be good or bad, only certain events can be obligatory. This, it’s argued, is because obligations have two additional roles to play beyond mere evaluation. One of these additional roles is a directive one. Obligations, unlike mere evaluations, must direct us to respond in certain ways, and for these directives to have any point at all, they must direct us to respond only in those ways that we have the option of responding. The other role that obligations play is an inculpatory one. For there is a conceptual connection between failing to abide by an obligation and being accountable for so failing—at least, absent some suitable excuse. And since it’s inappropriate to hold subjects to account for events over which they lacked control, we must restrict a subject’s options to those events over which she exerted the relevant sort of control.

Keywords:   accountability, action guiding, blameworthiness, control, desert, fitting, Frankfurt, guilt, options, responsibility

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