The Moral Philosophy of Social Cooperation
- New Thinking in Political Economy series
Chapter 9: Duty and Universalizability
KANT’S AND OTHER VIEWS OF DUTY The remark about “falling on grenades” (quoted in Chapter 8) brings to mind the view that duty is the centerpiece of ethics. Why be moral? Because duty so requires. An act is especially virtuous, on this view, if done contrary to one’s own interest and inclination. Duty, by the word’s derivation, is action that is due, owed. It concerns fulfilling obligations to other persons (and arguably to oneself). On a utilitarian view, the concept and sense of duty are instrumental: ideally, dutiful behavior serves happiness. Duty for its own sake is senseless. Contrary to Kant, the type of personal character that leads to specific behavior only from a sense of duty is less estimable than character that leads to it from inclination. Moritz Schlick agrees with Marcus Aurelius, who said: In the stage of perfection “thou wilt do what is right, not because it is proper, but because thereby thou givest thyself pleasure” (quoted in Schlick 1930/1961, p. 207, and passim for similar remarks; cf. Taylor 1970 and Olson 1965). Suppose one man has a joyful interest in other people and their welfare; he helps his distressed neighbor because he likes him, feels his distress, and takes satisfaction in helping. A second man dislikes his neighbor yet grudgingly gives the same help because he feels a moral obligation. On the view being criticized, he is the more virtuous, for his sense of duty overrides his inclinations. The first man is not particularly praiseworthy; for...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.