Maike Albertzart: Being Jointly Obligated: A Reductive Account. [Abstract]

There are cases in which we intuitively want to say that individuals have a moral duty to act jointly with others in order to prevent a serious harm, even though they are individually unable to discharge this duty. I argue that existing attempts to understand these duties as duties of the group, as irreducible joint duties, or as duties to collectivise fail. I offer an alternative account according to which individuals in the relevant cases are jointly obligated to prevent the harm in question. However, there is no such thing as a joint obligation, only a state of being jointly obligated. This state is reducible to two types of individual duties. First, each agent has a duty with a conditional content of the form O [y ® f]. Due to its conditional content, the assignment of such a duty is compatible with “ought” implies “can.” Second, each individual has as an unconditional duty to show readiness for the joint action. By expressing an intention of the form “I will if you will,” an agent satisfies the antecedent of the other agents’ conditional duties. The respective agents do not only provide each other with a means to perform a joint action, they are also linked through their mutual power to change each other’s normative situation by turning each other’s conditional duties into unconditional duties. In this way, the interlocking tokens of individual duties create a state of being jointly obligated.

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