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NateTheGreat

Question on Duty

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I was reading "Philosophy: Who Needs It" yesterday and I came across an essay that showed she had only contempt for the idea of "duty."

I can understand it when she places it in a Kant perspective, but I have a bit of a harder time when placed in another perspective.

What would be the Oist answer someone who said "We have a duty not to leave our kids with a massive debt", or the libertarian that says "It's our duty not to use force" or Thomas Paine, who says "He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."?

Thanks for answers! :)

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Morals are basically ''conditional'' statements, and there are no ''duties'' which apply automatically to all people. The goal of morality is not to perform your ''duties,'' but to gain rational values.

"We have a duty not to leave our kids with a massive debt"

If you care about your kids, and you value their welfare, you wouldn't want to leave them with debt. Plus, these debts (I'm assuming you're speaking of government debt) are often a result of very expensive and improper government programs, such as social security; I do not think I need to go in-depth on why such programs are wrong. Third, a government shouldn't cause debt, because that's just pushing a problem off for later; it's irresponsible and short-term.

''the libertarian that says 'It's our duty not to use force'''

Objectivism definitely disagrees with the libertarian position, and holds that rights are not deontological, they are not given by divine permission, nor are they axiomatic. Humans have rights because they are the preconditions for a voluntary, proper society, and they are necessary for man's proper survival in a civilization. Thus, the reason we should not use force is, among other reasons, so that our rights can be recognized.

What I was meaning to show in those two responses is that things like these can be reduced to more fundamental moral values, and not be passed off as duties without further questions.

Also do note: sometimes people do use the word ''duty'' in a colloquial sense, simply meaning something one ought to do.

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It is moral for a parent to take care of his child, it is moral not to leave debt to our kids, it is moral not to initiate force. So, if duty is simply a synonym for "the moral thing to do" then it is unobjectionable.

If you think about what things are duties and what are not, how to you use the term "duty"? Are there some things that are moral but not duties? Are there some things that are duties but are not moral? Is duty a sub-class within things that are moral? Is it different to do something from a sense of duty versus doing it from a sense of proud morality?

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