Ethical synthesis (Was: Anti-Capitalism)

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Tue Apr 24 2001 - 20:50:32 MDT

On 21 April 2001 16:02 Mark Walker wrote

> ...consider the claim by Kant that "ought implies can". It is absurd to say
> that I ought to allievate all suffering on this earth because I can't. (I
> can lend a hand, but I can't do it all by myself). What we can and can't do
> is circumscribed in part by who we are, i.e., in part by our nature. By
> changing the scope of what we can do, by altering our natures, will likely
> lead to an increase in the scope of what we ought to do.

Excuse me, I am only a beginner in the weighty intricacies of German
metaphysics, but Kant's claim looks right to me, just as an exercise in
logic. Ought implies can is the same as "ought not or can". Clearly
it's always true that I either ought not to do something, or I can do
it (leaving further inferences, of a psychological nature, to the
unwary). One or the other must be true. It also naturally translates
into the supposition that if I can't do something, then it's nonsense
to say that I should. Maybe that's all the old boy meant.

Lee Corbin

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