A Puzzle of Enforceability: Why do Moral Duties Differ in their Enforceability?

Journal of Moral Philosophy 19 (3):1-25 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

When someone is poised to fail to fulfil a moral duty, we can respond in a variety of ways. We might remind them of their duty, or seek to persuade them through argument. Or we might intervene forcibly to ensure that they act in accordance with their duty. Some duties appear to be such that the duty-bearer can be liable to forcible interference when this is necessary to ensure that they comply with them. We’ll call duties that carry such liabilities enforcement-apt. Not all duties seem to be enforcement-apt. Some, for example, accept that a person in a monogamous marriage has a moral duty to refrain from infidelity, but deny that a spouse can be compelled to comply with their duty to be faithful without transgressing her rights. More controversially, some think that our duties to assist others in severe need are not enforcement-apt. What could explain the contrast between duties that are enforcement-apt while and those that are not? We’ll call this the puzzle of enforceability and our paper considers three broad strategies for responding to it. The first strategy takes the form of identifying some substantive feature or features that are necessary and/or sufficient for a duty to possess some enforcement status. We consider a range of candidate explanations of this sort but find that none are plausible. The second strategy rejects the idea that there are genuinely enforcement-inapt duties and instead seeks to explain why there can nonetheless be marked differences amongst duties concerning how they can be enforced and who can enforce them. We find that this strategy too is largely unsuccessful. The third strategy offered seeks an explanation of differences in enforcement status by appeal to the broader social costs of enforcing certain kinds of duties. We find that this approach holds some promise but note that it requires adopting a controversial set of moral commitments. We conclude by considering our options in the absence of a solution to our puzzle.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,503

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Imperfect Duties, Group Obligations, and Beneficence.S. Andrew Schroeder - 2014 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (5):557-584.
Kantian ethics and global justice.Kok-Chor Tan - 1997 - Social Theory and Practice 23 (1):53-73.
Rediscovering Imperfect Duties.Jacob Nathan Ossar - 2002 - Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University
Moral obligations of states.Anne Schwenkenbecher - 2011 - In Applied Ethics Series. Centre for Applied Ethics and Philosophy, Hokkaido University. pp. 86-93.
Do Moral Duties Arise from Global Trade?Andrew Walton - 2014 - Moral Philosophy and Politics 1 (2):249-268.
Rights, Duties, and Moral Conflicts.Biasetti Pierfrancesco - 2014 - Etica E Politica (2):1042-1062.
XI—Why is it Disrespectful to Violate Rights?Rowan Cruft - 2013 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (2pt2):201-224.
Kant and the Claims of the Poor.Pablo Gilabert - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2):382-418.
Reasonable Partiality Towards Compatriots.David Miller - 2005 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (1-2):63-81.
Kantian ethical duties.Faviola Rivera - 2006 - Kantian Review 11:78-101.
Associative Duties and Global Justice.Jonathan Seglow - 2010 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 7 (1):54-73.

Analytics

Added to PP
2021-12-07

Downloads
44 (#268,136)

6 months
13 (#74,270)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Christian Barry
Australian National University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references