Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Document Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Philosophy

Year Degree Awarded

2015

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Fred Feldman

Second Advisor

Peter Graham

Third Advisor

Ernesto Garcia

Fourth Advisor

Lyn Frazier

Subject Categories

Ethics and Political Philosophy | Philosophy

Abstract

In this dissertation, I develop and defend some of W. D. Ross’s moral views. Ross’s views, I argue, are often highly plausible, though it is also often the case that variations on (or modifications to) his views are needed in order to remain philosophically tenable. In my dissertation, I explain why these variations are necessary and what they should look like.

In chapter 1, I discuss Ross’s theory of moral rightness in his most important work, The Right and the Good. In chapters 2 and 3, I correct various misunderstandings about Ross’s position: I argue that he is no more a particularist about absolute duty than a utilitarian or a Kantian is, and on many definitions of “pluralism” present in the literature, he is not in fact a pluralist, as he is typically assumed to be. In chapter 4, I discuss several objections that Ross later comes to make to his own theory of rightness; I argue, however, that none of them are any good. In chapter 5, I argue against Ned Markosian’s recent claim that “Rossian Minimalism” is the best theory of rightness that makes use of the concept of a prima facie duty: Ross’s own theory (or, at least, a “world” version of it) is, I maintain, superior to Rossian Minimalism. In chapter 6, I address some objections to Ross’s theory suggested by Michael Stocker and Michael Slote and demonstrate that the best way of responding to them is by transforming Ross’s theory into a “dual-ranking” one. In chapter 7, I discuss Ross’s theory of the subjective sense of “right” (chapters 1-6 are primarily concerned with Ross’s theory of the objective sense of the term). I show that Ross’s theory is problematic, and I offer a better theory in its place. In chapter 8, I turn to Ross’s theory of moral goodness. I argue that his theory is more plausible than other theories suggested in the literature, but it suffers from the “nepotism problem.” I show that Ross’s solution to this problem is unsatisfactory and suggest a better way forward.

Available for download on Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Share

COinS