Master of Arts (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

Document Type



Moral Theories can often place implausible demands upon agents, and these demands generally provide the criteria for the denial of such theories. In his book, On What Matters, Derek Parfit provides a systematic critique of subjective theories, and concludes that normative demands generated through subject-given reasons are both highly implausible, and logically incoherent, and thus it is incumbent upon philosophers to recognize them as inept in creating normative force. Through an analysis of the Deliberative Theory of subjectivism, Parfit provides three arguments; the Agony, All or None, and Incoherence Arguments which he claims undermine subjective theories. In this thesis I argue that Parfit is mistaken in his view that Deliberative Subjectivists do not have a plausible response to Parfit’s critiques. Through the works of John Rawls, Bernard Williams, Michael Smith, and Christine Korsgaard, subjectivists can formulate a theory of deliberation which adequately responds to Parfit’s challenges. By combining the use of procedural rules, subject-given desires, and pre-analytic moral intuitions, subjectivists can provide an account of normativity that does not depend upon ideal deliberation, as Parfit claims, and thus circumnavigates the challenges raised through Parfit’s three arguments.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Sarkar, Husain