UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Moral lives, moral worlds : partiality, consumption, & global justice Fuller, Lisa Laurine


The aim of this project is to reconcile conflicting impartial and partial views of obligation, and to explain how this reconciliation alters our understanding of obligations to the global poor. Part One begins with a description of the "Personal and Impersonal Moral Worlds," and provides an explanation of why these two common conceptions of morality are at odds with one another. It closes with an argument for why we ought to seek a reconciliation of the two views, rather than simply rejecting one or the other. Part Two addresses problems of justification and sketches out a moral framework designed to ease the tension between the impartial and partial views. This framework takes the form of a pluralistic conception of the good. Principally, it rests on the distinction between "foundational goods," the value of which originates in their close connection with the fundamental needs of human beings, and "relative goods" which are correlated with desires or preferences. How partial attachments and relationships fit into this pluralistic conception of the good is made clear. In this section, where both individuals and nationstates can be legitimately partial, and where such partiality begins to be unacceptable, is also marked out. With respect to the conduct of private individuals, citizens and national governments, it is concluded that limited partiality is justifiable, but that their obligations to ameliorate global poverty are much more extensive than is typically recognized. The third part of the thesis takes up issues surrounding the practical application of the theory. It is chiefly concerned with problems relating to the practical fulfillment of our obligations to the global poor, such as: how to determine when the need for a particular good has been fulfilled, how to best understand the exact character of our concrete duties and whether states or individuals are responsible for carrying out these duties. This thesis presents an integrated view of morality intended to be more theoretically satisfying than the conflicting partial and impartial views. In addition, it sets out a more practically feasible approach to fulfilling moral obligations. Thus, it is both a clarifying and a constructive project, designed to shed light on how we might create morally acceptable lives and societies.

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