The Normativity of Morality

Dissertation, University of Kansas (2002)


This dissertation concerns the normativity of morality. By morality, I mean a system of rules which put some demands on rational beings to regulate their behavior toward other people. Morality consists of two sub-parts: obligatory morality and supererogatory morality. By the normativity of morality, I mean the fair universality and the action-guidingness of morality. The normativity of morality consists of the normativity of obligatory morality and the normativity of supererogatory morality. ;In this dissertation, I argue that adequate normative theories of obligatory morality, supererogatory morality, and morality are T. M. Scanlon's contractualism, valoric utilitarianism, and pluralistic valoric utilitarianism respectively. Scanlon's contractualism holds that the content and the normativity of obligatory morality are based upon our concern to justify our actions to fellow beings. Valoric utilitarianism holds that an action is morally better to the degree it approximates to the maximization of the amount of non-moral goodness. ;Pluralistic valoric utilitarianism holds that the principles of obligatory morality and the principles of supererogatory morality are of different categories. The principles of obligatory morality consist of a quite limited range of moral obligations, and the principle of supererogatory morality is valoric utilitarianism. Even though the principles of obligatory morality and the principles of supererogatory morality are of different categories, the principles of obligatory morality are indirectly related to the principles of supererogatory morality in the sense that the principles of obligatory morality are justified by the principles of supererogatory morality. ;Pluralistic valoric utilitarianism can come in many different versions, depending upon a theory of obligatory morality and a theory of supererogatory morality. Granted that Scanlon's contractualism is an adequate normative theory of obligatory morality, I argue that an adequate normative theory of morality is a version of pluralistic valoric utilitarianism which subsumes Scanlon's contractualism as its theory of obligatory morality

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