Doctoral Candidates

Andrea Klusch, M.Ed.


Intuitions in moral reasoning: The problem of duty proper in W. D. Ross’ ethics

Ethical Intuitionism claims that some moral truths are known directly and not, for example, by means of deduction from other premises. William David Ross established this view in regards to prima facie duties. There is research on Ross's method of justification and the efforts of a pluralistic view in moral theory. Yet, there is little research on the practical application of these seemingly intuitively known principles considering moral reasoning. The question remains: How to find the right and good moral actions in the complex reality of here and now? If it is not possible to transform the intuitive evidence of the general principles into the necessity of a concrete duty, the prima facie duties seem obsolete in moral reasoning. This problem could be identified as an epistemic gap, simply speaking, between practical knowledge of the general and knowledge of the particular. The aim of my project is to systematically clarify the question of how we know what we ought to do actually or, speaking with W. D. Ross, how to know our duty proper. To do so, I focus on the concept of moral judgment and its meaning of an 'intuitive' moral epistemology; mainly considering 'The Right and the Good' and 'The Foundations of Ethics”. To clarify the problem of duty proper and the shortcomings as well as the efforts of its solution, I follow Ross reading and learning in Aristotle and Kant. Thereby it should be possible to show that there is a productive way to combine deontology with elements of the Aristotelian teleology without taking position of virtue ethics or particularism. Thus, this thesis aims at contributing to the research on practical rationality, practical knowledge and methods in Applied Ethics.

Funded as a doctoral scholarship by the Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft (sdw) since 04/2021