The moderate communitarian individual and the primacy of duties

Theoria 76 (2):152-166 (2010)
Gyekye argues for the moral supremacy of certain duties. The individual is, as a natural member of the cultural community, morally obligated to respect community values; co-operate with fellow community members, be sensitive to the economic plight of others and morally expected to respect the elderly. Though Gyekye recognizes the moral need to respect certain individual rights, in the case of a moral clash between those rights and the values cherished by the community, the latter must be upheld. I wish to critically examine the arguments in support of this position. Contrary to Gyekye's view, I argue that the natural interpersonal bond among members of the same cultural community does not strongly support some of the duties mentioned. However, I am not arguing that the individual person is not morally obligated to the cultural community at all. I argue that natural membership of the cultural community could be a necessary condition for the justification of certain duties; it is not, morally, a sufficient condition.
Keywords rights  communal membership  obligations  communal values  communitarianism
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DOI 10.1111/j.1755-2567.2010.01064.x
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John Rawls (2009/2005). A Theory of Justice. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Philosophy and Rhetoric. Oxford University Press 133-135.

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