Semester of Graduation

Spring 2019

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Philosophy

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

My thesis is concerned with the prospects for finding a solution to what Henry Sidgwick called the Profoundest Problem of Ethics. I begin by analysing Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics to reveal the assumptions about rationality that led Sidgwick to claim that Ethics is plagued with a profoundest problem. I then evaluate the capacity of seven accounts – those of Derek Parfit, Roger Crisp, David Brink, David Phillips, William Frankena, Owen McLeod, and Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer – to solve the Profoundest Problem of Ethics; arguing that not one is able to solve it. In the conclusion, I indicate that the common problem that prevents all accounts, Sidgwick’s included, from solving the Profoundest Problem of Ethics is that they all share the assumptions about rationality that Sidgwick himself supposed in defining the Profoundest Problem of Ethics. I conclude suggesting that these assumptions are unsubstantiated, and I indicate that, when these unquestioned assumptions about rationality are rejected, what Sidgwick called the Profoundest Problem of Ethics comes into a new light in which a solution may not even be necessary.

Committee Chair

Sarkar, Husain

Available for download on Monday, March 16, 2020

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