Moral Strata pp 133-168 | Cite as

Securing Our Moral Ends

  • John R. WelchEmail author
Part of the Theory and Decision Library A: book series (TDLA, volume 49)


Chapter 5 concentrates on the teleological stratum of moral discourse. The ends of Kantian, Benthamite, and Frankenian moral theories are the good will, the greatest happiness of the greatest number, and beneficence with justice respectively. Since each of these ends can generate moral advice that differs from that of the others, the relative merits of these ends is a fundamental moral issue. Is there any rational way to choose among them? This chapter argues for an affirmative answer. When ends are expressed in teleological descriptions such as ‘The highest good is the greatest happiness of the greatest number’, the descriptions can be viewed as hypotheses and thereby confirmed or disconfirmed through hypothetico-deductive reasoning analogous to that employed in the sciences. But when ends are expressed in teleological directives such as ‘Act with a good will’, choice among directives can be reasonably guided by the comparative decision theory of Chap. 3. Finally, the chapter addresses the higher-order end of morality itself: Can the aim of acting morally be rationally justified? The chapter urges that coherence requires the adoption of ‘I ought to be moral’ and that coherence in turn can be justified.


Decision Theory Reflective Equilibrium Moral Discourse Modus Tollens Great Happiness 
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint Louis University – Madrid CampusMadridSpain

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