Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy and Public Affairs

Reader 1

Paul Hurley

Reader 2

Alex Rajczi

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Rights Information

© 2012 Sara E. Stern


I consider Derek Parfit's claim that our partial and impartial reasons are only roughly commensurable. Parfit's philosophy draws heavily on Henry Sidgwick's dualism of practical reason, and I examine how well Parfit's arguments in Reasons and Persons and On What Matters handle the difficulties that come with Sidgwick's dualism. I also defend Parfit's conclusions against Allen Wood's accusation that he relies on intuitions about cases that lack morally relevant information. This charge overlooks the more fundamental differences in their two moral theories. I conclude that if we accept Parfit's conception of what reasons we have, we ought to accept his further claim that our fundamental reasons cannot be weighed against one another. If this is the case, we will always have sufficient reason to be both moral and self-interested in most situations.


  • Best Senior Thesis in Philosophy

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.