Main problems in W.D. Ross's ethical theory
Richards, Jerald H.
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The purpose of this thesis is to examine in detail main problems that are encountered in W. D. Ross's ethical theory. The major sources of information for Ross's ethical theory are the two volumes, The Right and the Good and Foundations of Ethics. Problems in Ross's ethical theory that are considered are the following: (1) methodology, (2) critical ethics, (3) normative ethics, and (4) free-will vs. determinism. Ross's basic approach to the study of ethics is the phenomenological approach in terms of the content of the moral consciousness. By moral consciousness Ross means the existence of a large body of beliefs and convictions (common to all men) to the effect that there are certain acts that ought to be done and certain things that ought. to be brought into existence. Ross, however, also relies heavily upon the moral consciousness of the "thoughtful" and "well-educated" and "best" people. Further, at other times he appeals to his own deepest ethical convictions. Ross's confidence in the reports of the moral consciousness and his seeming indifference to the actual source of these reports partially rests upon his beliefs (1) that there is a common moral consciousness of the entire human family; (2) that obligations and values are objective; and (3) that the human family is steadily progressing toward discovery of and agreement upon these objective obligations and values. It seems questionable, however, whether this third contention is true. The many existing ethical disagreements between individuals, nations, and races argue,· strongly against its establishment. Ross himself holds that, in the final analysis, one must use his own judgment as to what is right and wrong, good and bad. His ultimate approach thus becomes the critical study of his own (and of others' like him in background and temperament) moral consciousness. [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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