Imperfect Duties, Group Obligations, and Beneficence

Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (5):557-584 (2014)
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Abstract

There is virtually no philosophical consensus on what, exactly, imperfect duties are. In this paper, I lay out three criteria which I argue any adequate account of imperfect duties should satisfy. Using beneficence as a leading example, I suggest that existing accounts of imperfect duties will have trouble meeting those criteria. I then propose a new approach: thinking of imperfect duties as duties held by groups, rather than individuals. I show, again using the example of beneficence, that this proposal can satisfy the criteria, explaining how something can both have the necessity characteristic of duty, while also allowing agents the latitude which seems to attach to imperfect duties.

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Author's Profile

S. Andrew Schroeder
Claremont McKenna College

References found in this work

Collective Intentions and Actions.John Searle - 1990 - In Philip R. Cohen Jerry Morgan & Martha Pollack (eds.), Intentions in Communication. MIT Press. pp. 401-415.
Social Objects.Anthony Quinton - 1976 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 76 (1):1-27.
Beliefs and Desires Incorporated.Austen Clark - 1994 - Journal of Philosophy 91 (8):404-25.
Perfect and Imperfect Obligations.George Rainbolt - 2000 - Philosophical Studies 98 (3):233-256.
Acts, Perfect Duties, and Imperfect Duties.Michael Stocker - 1967 - Review of Metaphysics 20 (3):507 - 517.

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