Internal Reasons and the Ought-Implies-Can Principle

The task of this essay is to use the ought-implies-can principle (OIC) to clarify and defend Bernard Williams’ claim that all reasons are internal. On the interpretation offered here, the internalism/externalism controversy initiated by Williams is about the indexicality of normative practical reasons. The central question is this: Are all of our reasons anchored to our current beliefs and desires (as internalists claim), or might we have reasons that are in no way tied to such contingent facts about us (as externalists claim)?

Published in: Philosophical Forum
2008 Pages 469-483