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Moral Duties

Moral Duties

People have moral duties to themselves and others. The moral duties might either be perfect or imperfect. Perfect duties to others are typically universalizable and involve recognizing the other person as the end. On the other hand, imperfect duties involve being helpful to others. Additionally, imperfect duties to oneself involve the development of talents. In case 20, we see Kant’s Theory’s application, both perfect and imperfect duties to others.

First and foremost, the perfect duty is made clear when Sally promises her father that she will learn and become a physicist on his dying bed. This act’s universalizability is clear in her untruth on what she wanted to major in after graduation. Sally chooses not to tell her father the truth about her aspirations because she fears his reaction to the truth. From the passage, it is clear that Sally’s father always wanted to see his daughter as a physicist; therefore, telling him the truth would probably evoke a reaction that the father couldn’t handle in his current situation. Consequently, Sally performed her perfect duty in telling him the untruth.

Secondly, the imperfect duty is evident in the passage. Imperfect duty involves being charitable, which is apparent when Sally chooses to help her father by telling him an untruth. In other words, the perfect duty influenced the imperfect duty. Sally’s father was not in a condition to be told the truth, and her choice to hold back may have eased his passing.

Thirdly, the imperfect duty to oneself is also evident in the passage. Sally’s choice to pursue what she wanted indicates her imperfect duty to herself. Her desire to pursue law instead of being a physicist demonstrates her duty to cultivate her talents.

Finally, the perfect duty to others is overlooked when she makes false promises to her father. Perfect duty to others dictates honesty between people, but it was for the greater good. In performing her imperfect duty to others, she overlooked her perfect duty to others; therefore, her actions were morally correct.


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Moral Duties

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When Sally’s father was gravely ill, he called her to his bedside and said, “I’d always hoped I’d see you graduate from college and go on to become a physicist, but I know death is near. Promise me one thing—that you’ll keep on studying hard and become a physicist.” Sally was deeply moved. “I will,” she responded; “I swear to you I will.” Her father died shortly thereafter. Now it is two years later, and Sally is ready to graduate from college. But she will not become a physicist. She has decided to go to law school.

Moral Duties

Moral Duties

Textbook: Ruggiero. Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues (p. 121). McGraw-Hill Education. Kindle Edition

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