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Moral Writings$
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H. A. Prichard and Jim MacAdam

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199250196

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199250197.001.0001

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What Is the Basis of Moral Obligation ?

What Is the Basis of Moral Obligation ?

(p.1) 1. What Is the Basis of Moral Obligation?
Moral Writings

H. A. Prichard

Oxford University Press

To the question ‘What is the basis of moral obligation?’, argues that there is no general answer. It is improper to imply that all right acts are right for the same reason. Before defending this view, considers two possible grounds for moral obligation: 1) the goodness of the effects of an action, and 2) the goodness of the act itself. Whereas the former, which is broadly utilitarian, fails to comply with our real moral convictions, the latter does not capture well the role that motive plays in determining the rightness of an action. Moral principles are not deducible either from one single principle or from anything that is not a principle. Each is independent and possesses its own reason as the basis for a given moral obligation.

Keywords:   act, effect, goodness, moral obligation, motive, principle, reason, utilitarian(ism)

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