Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Garrett Bredeson

Second Advisor

Dominic Bailey

Third Advisor

Sungyun Lim


This paper examines the manner in which moral theory ought to be conducted. It focuses on three questions of ethical theory: (1) Why do we conduct moral theory; (2) How ought moral theory be grounded and explored; (3) What is morally good. While many people concern their moral investigations primarily with the third question, I argue that this question of the morally good cannot be satisfactorily answered until the motivational why and methodological how questions are thoroughly examined. To frame this argument, I examine how two famous philosophers, David Hume and Immanuel Kant, answer questions (1) and (2). Based on their answers, I examine a potential problem arising from the question of the morally good, and explore a potential answer to this problem by way of Adam Smith’s moral theory. My proposed answers to these moral questions seek to avoid their potential circularity and promote moral philosophy as a practical science.