W. D. Ross
PHIL 245 – D4A3 General Ethics
Emilia C. Coleman
April 24, 2013
According to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2012) on W. D. Ross, “Sir William David Ross made significant contributions to the translation and interpretation of the works of Aristotle and to moral philosophy. His work in ancient philosophy, especially his various commentaries on Aristotle, is still considered to be of the highest caliber. Many believe that Ross's work in this area is his most valuable contribution to philosophy. However, his main writings in moral philosophy are of lasting if not equal value. His The Right and the Good is arguably one of the most important ...view middle of the document...
Duties determine what we ought to do but they do not determine what we ought to do with all things considered. Whatever we ought to do all things considered will override any other conflicting duties. Prima facie duties are ones that Ross meant are considerations that tend to make the case for that action as our duty.
Ross suggested that his principles of prima facie duty cannot be inferential from other propositions. According to Ross (1996), that of these principles, "In both cases we are dealing with propositions that cannot be proved, but that just as certainly need no proof" (p. 315). Ross theory infers that we have prima facie duties not to harm people at least to the extent that it causes any intrinsically bad (pain) and to help people to the extent that it produces something intrinsically good (pleasure/happiness). The theory of prima facie duties involves Ross in a commitment to pluralism about the right.
In moral theories we find the situation to be even more complicated since these prima facie duties are a labyrinthine. Ross asserts that prima facie duties are not really duties stand in a...