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W.B. Ross

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Ethics Lecture October 24, 2011 W.B. Ross • Isn’t just one explanation for what makes acts right • Utilitarianism cannot distinguish between the amount of good an action it will produce and the relationship it puts people with each other; not specific about who it benefits • Ross responds to Mill and Moore Prima Facie Duties • Duties that are all else being equal • He acknowledges it is not the best word because it seems to apply that there are only apparent duties • List of duties that are always a duty; they are not absolute duty that always tell you what to do but things that always put a moral obligation on you • Previous acts of my own: o Fidelity: following through with things that you said you would do [implicit promise not to tell lies- every single time you interact about other people, they have certain assumptions about your conduct that you are expected to follow through with] o Reparation: those resting on a previous wrongful act; taking responsibility for something you’ve done. May include an apology or giving their property back • Duties of gratitude: assumed and understood • Duties of justice [distributive justice- how to give out goods or rewards in a good way] Any duties that have to do with how we are able to gie them out in a good way • Beneficence: we ought to maximize good where we can [good isn’t defined in hedonistic terms alone. Duty to do things that make the world a better place but you do it in the time and manner you see fit • Self-improvement: you have a duty to bring about good for yourself and improve yourself and make your life better when the opportunity arises. Everyone is already inclined to their own pleasure and he doesn’t really see it as a duty when its something that is natural for us. • Non-maleficence: first duty and most important • These duties are not all equal: more morally at fault if you cause harm than failing to bring good. Your first duty of moral responsibility is non-maleficence. • Everything on this list has a claim on you • Prima facie duties vs. actual duties: actual duty is what is right in
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