Chapter 9 Essay Questions
1. Write an essay describing the central features of Ross’s ethic of prima facie duties. Define the notion of a prima facie duty and explain how a moral theory based on prima facie duties differs from monistic and absolutist moral theories.
2. According to Ross, what should we do when our prima facie duties conflict? Do you think that this is a serious problem for his view? Why or why not?
3. Write an essay discussing Ross’s list of seven prima facie duties. Do you think his list is accurate and complete? Why or why not? If you were to create your own list of prima facie duties, what would be on it?
4. Explain the concept of a prima facie duty and describe how it differs from a duty proper. Why does Ross think that the duties he mentions are only prima facie duties? Do you find his arguments convincing? Is an ethical theory based on prima facie duties preferable to other sorts of ethical theory? Why or why not?
5. Choose either utilitarianism or Kant’s ethics and explain Ross’s objections to the theory you chose. How would a defender of that theory respond to Ross’s objections? Ultimately, who do you think is right? Defend your response.