Cecilia Tohaneanu
University of Bucharest (PhD)
No matter how it is viewed, as a plausible version of anti-utilitarianism or of non-consequentialist, or even as a plausible version of deontology, the theory of prima facie duties certainly makes W. D. Ross one of the most important moral philosopher of the twentieth-century. By outlining his pluralistic deontology, this paper attempts to argue for a positive answer to the question of whether Ross’s theory can offer a solution to the issue of conflicting duties. If such a solution is convincing, as I believe it is, it would indicate the possibility to justify within the deontological framework, i.e., without committing to the principle of good-maximizing, those “hard cases” where people should break a promise or other (prima facie) duty in order to prevent a disastrous outcome. The theory of prima facie duties might then suggest that deontology and utilitarianism would likely be reconcilable.
Keywords W. D. Ross  pluralist deontology  prima facie duty  conflicting duties  actual duties  utilitarianism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Shame, Stigma, and Disgust in the Decent Society.Richard J. Arneson - 2007 - The Journal of Ethics 11 (1):31-63.
William David Ross.Anthony Skelton - 2010/2012 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Underivative Duty: Prichard on Moral Obligation: Thomas Hurka.Thomas Hurka - 2010 - Social Philosophy and Policy 27 (2):111-134.
An Applied Ethical Analysis System in Business.Alan Wong & Eugene Beckman - 1992 - Journal of Business Ethics 11 (3):173 - 178.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Ross and the Concept of a Prima Facie Duty.H. J. McCloskey - 1963 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 41 (3):336 – 345.
Prima Facie and Seeming Duties.Michael Morreau - 1996 - Studia Logica 57 (1):47 - 71.
A Partial Application Procedure for Ross’s Ethical Theory.B. C. Postow - 2006 - Journal of Philosophical Research 31:239-248.
Moderate Intuitionism and the Epistemology of Moral Judgment.Robert Audi - 1998 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 1 (1):15-44.
Prima Facie and Actual Duty.Arthur M. Wheeler - 1977 - Analysis 37 (3):142 - 144.
Prima Facie Duties.William David Ross - 1987 - In Christopher W. Gowans (ed.), Moral Dilemmas. Oxford Uiversity Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
1,752 ( #2,411 of 2,462,058 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
221 ( #2,188 of 2,462,058 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes