Rossian ethics

W. D. Ross was a deontological ethicist who introduced the idea of “prima facie duties”. Unlike Kantian and utilitarian ethics, Ross believed that his ethical framework better captured the morally grey situations which the everyday man deals with.

Prima facie duties

Prima facie duties are those actions that are fundamental and self-evident. Ross proposed seven including: fidelity, reparation, gratitude, justice, beneficence, self-improvement and non-maleficence. This differs from some other deontological theories that give considerable weight to the consequences of an action.

Actual duties

For specific situations, individuals need to weigh the underlying prima facie duties that apply to determine what are the actual duties in an ethical dilemma.

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