A Partial Application Procedure for Ross's Ethical Theory

Abstract
W. D. Ross’s ethical theory requires us somehow to compare the metaphorical “weights” of different prima facie duties, but it leaves mysterious how this might be done. The formulation of a procedure to achieve such a comparison would be desirable on practical, theoretical, and pedagogical grounds. I formulate a procedure that is congenial to Ross’s theory. Central to my procedure are instructions to characterize the weight of each prima facie duty with respect to (a) the general stringency of this kind of duty, (b) the stringency of this particular duty relative to other duties of its own kind, and (c) the degree to which the duty specifically demands the particular action that it favors in a given case. The procedure leads to a determination of one’s actual, all-things-considered duty in some cases but not in all
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