Prima Facie Obligation and Doing the Best One Can

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael Zimmerman, Professor and Philosophy Pre-Law Concentration Advisor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: I believe that one ought, morally, to do the best one can. This is, of course, controversial. I don't propose to debate the issue here, however, but wish rather to address a related one: how such a theory of absolute obligation — a "maximizing" theory — might accommodate prima facie obligation. My sense is that many believe that maximizing theories cannot accommodate prima facie obligation, and that this has led some maximizers to reject the concept of prima facie obligation while leading some of those who appeal to this concept to reject maximization. I shall suggest, on the contrary, that maximizing theories are well-equipped to accommodate prima facie obligation; I shall do this by proposing an analysis of absolute obligation in terms of certain concepts and then using some of these concepts to analyze prima facie obligation. My purpose is threefold: to enhance our understanding of prima facie obligation; to show that appeal to prima facie obligation is not a good reason for rejecting maximization; and to rehabilitate the concept of prima facie obligation in the eyes of maximizers

Additional Information

Philosophical Studies, 78 (1995): 87-123
Language: English
Date: 1995
prima facie obligation, morals, maximizing theories, absolute obligation

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