TitleEthics under moral neutrality
NameWilliams, Evan Gregg (author), Temkin, Larry S. (chair), Parfit, Derek (internal member), Smith, Holly M. (internal member), McMahan, Jeff (internal member), Railton, Peter A. (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
DescriptionHow should we act when uncertain about the moral truth, or when trying to remain neutral between competing moral theories? This dissertation argues that some types of actions and policies are relatively likely to be approved by a very wide range of moral theories—even theories which have never yet been formulated, or which appear to cancel out one another's advice. For example, I argue that actions and policies which increase a moral agent's access to primary goods also tend to increase that agent's
likelihood of bringing about good consequences, even under varying and mutually incompatible hypotheses about what consequences count as "good". We therefore have a subjective, pro tanto moral reason to perform such actions and enact such policies—one
whose justification does not require treating any particular theory as especially probable, but instead merely requires treating at least one at-least-partly consequentialist moral theory as an open hypothesis, and is therefore applicable even under conditions of moral uncertainty or moral neutrality. My discussion begins abstractly, but as it progresses it gradually applies its framework to increasingly concrete issues. I find that the justification of some liberal policies—in the classical sense of "liberal"—can be accomplished with significantly fewer moral assumptions than have traditionally been relied upon.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Evan Gregg Williams
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.