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Monotonicity and Inadvisable Oughts

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Daniel Muñoz & Jack Spencer have a great new paper, 'Knowledge of Objective ‘Oughts’: Monotonicity and the New Miners Puzzle' (forthcoming in PPR).  In it, they dispute that knowing that you objectively ought to do something entails that you subjective ought to do it, on the basis of non-maximal act-types, which might be performed in multiple ways (some ideal, some disastrous). Their argument depends upon 'ought' being upward monotonic (UM): "if you ought to do a certain act X, and X-ing entails Y-ing, then you ought to do Y."  I think their central case instead demonstrates why we should reject UM (and similar normative inheritance claims, as found, e.g., in Doug Portmore's Opting for the Best).In a classic mineshafts case, you know that (to save the most lives) either you objectively ought to block shaft A, or you objectively ought to block shaft B, but you don't know which.  Because blocking the wrong shaft would be disastrous, you rationally (or "subjectively") ought to block neither. M&S now highlight that the above disjunction, together with UM, entails the less-specific prescription that you objectively ought to block a shaft.  You could know this to be true, they argue, but still you (rationally) shouldn't block a shaft, given the risk of disaster.UM violates a plausible constraint on the objective ought: that if it would be morally worse for you to ϕ, then it is not the case that you objectively ought to ϕ.  Since you might block the wrong shaft, we cannot know that you objectively ought to block a shaft: depending on how you did it, you might kill everyone!  And it's certainly not the case that you objectively ought to do something that would kill everyone.  So we should reject UM.M&S write: "UM is backed up by some formidable arguments, and the objections to it, even if they work, don’t apply in the Miners case." (p.8).  Let's take a closer look.First, they offer a tendentiously. . .

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