Date of Submission

May 2011


The thesis looks at the part played by failure in the life of the moral actor; the importance of integration between different facets of the moral actor's life; the possibility of being obliged to do evil; and the scope of morality. Essential to the moral actor is the ability to choose to accept failure or defeat on moral grounds; to have capabilities to further a cause but to forsake those capabilities because of a belief in their application being illicit, evil and immoral. Over the course of the thesis we will discuss the different ways in which we might fail both practically and morally. The moral actor will, at times, be unable to achieve particular desired outcomes due to practical limits to her personal powers. However, if it is a moral rather than a practical limit, and if the outcome of her failing negatively affects others, the freedom of the moral actor to be constrained by the limit will come under a great deal of strain. A consideration of the way in which this strain ought and ought not be relieved is the work of this thesis. The necessary singularity of her moral position, and the multiplicity of roles and obligations connected to her is apt to generate for her conflict. Because this occasion for conflict exists, there may be a temptation to engineer a disintegration of the moral actor's moral position. Such a move needs to be avoided, as it leaves the moral actor bereft of a suitably conjunctive view of herself from which she might make determinations on matters of moral significance. The moral agent or actor whose life and differing roles are poorly integrated is not well placed for discerning between conflicting putative obligations.

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


258 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Theology and Philosophy

Included in

Philosophy Commons