What Is the Basis of Moral Obligation ?

H. A. Prichard

in Moral Writings

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780199250196
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598265 | DOI:

Series: British Moral Philosophers

 What Is the Basis of Moral Obligation  ?

Show Summary Details


To the question ‘What is the basis of moral obligation?’, argues that there is no general answer. It is improper to imply that all right acts are right for the same reason. Before defending this view, considers two possible grounds for moral obligation: 1) the goodness of the effects of an action, and 2) the goodness of the act itself. Whereas the former, which is broadly utilitarian, fails to comply with our real moral convictions, the latter does not capture well the role that motive plays in determining the rightness of an action. Moral principles are not deducible either from one single principle or from anything that is not a principle. Each is independent and possesses its own reason as the basis for a given moral obligation.

Keywords: act; effect; goodness; moral obligation; motive; principle; reason; utilitarian(ism)

Chapter.  3186 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.