The Time of an Obligation

H. A. Prichard

in Moral Writings

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780199250196
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598265 | DOI:

Series: British Moral Philosophers

 The Time of an Obligation

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In discussing the fact that it takes time to perform an action, distinguishes statements such as ‘I shall do x’ from statements such as ‘I shall be under an obligation to do x’ and ‘I was doing x’ from ‘I was under an obligation to do x’. The truth of the ‘ought’ statements is independent of whether the action is done, as it is not necessary that one not do the action at the time required in order to be under an obligation to do it at that time. For some contrasts between ‘ought’ and ‘is’ statements, the obligation, such as the obligation to go to bed, refers to the future. The statement ‘I am under an obligation to go to bed’ is equivalent to ‘from now on I shall be under an obligation to go to bed’, and does not require either that I shall not do the action or that I have not done the action for it to be true.

Keywords: action; future; obligation; ought; statement; time

Chapter.  817 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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