Philosophical Studies 176 (12):3211-3240 (2019)

D Black
Yale University
Holly Smith
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
We often act in ways that create duties for ourselves: we adopt a child and become obligated to raise and educate her. We also sometimes act in ways that eliminate duties: we get divorced, and no longer have a duty to support our now ex-spouse. When is it morally permissible to create or to eliminate a duty? These questions have almost wholly evaded philosophical attention. In this paper we develop answers to these questions by arguing in favor of the asymmetric approach to deontic value. This approach holds that we must assign zero deontic value to fulfilling a duty, while assigning negative deontic value to violating that duty. Taking the opposing more natural symmetric approach, which holds that fulfilling duties has positive deontic value, leads to perverse recommendations about when to create or eliminate duties. A formal proof supporting the asymmetric approach is offered. We further show that moral theories require a consequentialist component to explain why we sometimes have duties to create or maintain duties.
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-018-1171-y
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References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Risk and Rationality.Lara Buchak - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
Value in Ethics and Economics.Elizabeth Anderson - 1993 - Harvard University Press.

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