Event Detail

Tue Dec 13, 2016
4–6 PM
Graduate Research Colloquium
Julian Jonker
Directed Duties and Moral Repair

Suppose I promise Stephanie that I will help her move house. Then, in ordinary circumstances, I ought to help her move. But that is not all. I owe it to Stephanie to do what I have promised. This three-place relation is called a ‘directed duty,’ and a wide range of moral duties are of this sort. If I violate my directed duty, then I not only do wrong but I wrong Stephanie. But in what way is owing it to her to do what I promised different from simply having to do it? What is added to a duty by the fact that it is directed? I argue that an informative answer to this question must characterize directed duties in terms of the structure of our practice of holding each other accountable. If I owe a duty to Stephanie, then she has special standing in that practice. But it is not helpful to say, as some philosophers do, that she has special standing to demand that I fulfill my duty, or to complain when I do not fulfill my duty. Her special standing is more helpfully characterized as her being the one to whom I must apologize if I do not fulfill the duty, and her being the one who has the power to forgive me. Once we characterize special standing in this way, we can also make sense of why it is important that our moral practice contains directed duties.