Francesco Allegri

W.D. Ross e i conflitti morali tra principi "prima facie"

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In "The Right and the Good" (1930) and in "Foundations of Ethics" (1939) W.D. Ross develops a convincing third alternative between traditional versions of deontological theory and utilitarianism. Against the former Ross refuses the notion of "absolute duty", introducing the concept of "prima facie duty"; against the latter he vindicates the plurality of the sources of moral obligation. In both cases he appeals to reflective common sense as a test-stand. But his normative pluralism is often accused to yield an "unconnected heap of duties". In this essay the author points out the inadequacy of this criticism, by showing that in Ross's works it is possible to find various indications limiting his agnosticism about the conflicts among "prima facie" duties. Against recent interpretations that place Ross quite close to consequentialism, some considerations are here put forward bringing Ross nearer classical deontologism.

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