On the Supposed Incoherence of Obligations to Oneself

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (1):175-189 (2021)
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Abstract

ABSTRACT An influential argument against the possibility of obligations to oneself states that the very notion of such obligations is incoherent: If there were such obligations, we could release ourselves from them; yet releasing oneself from an obligation is impossible. I challenge this argument by arguing against the premise that it is impossible to release oneself from an obligation. I point out that this premise assumes that if it were possible to release oneself from an obligation, it would be impossible to violate that obligation. I note that there are two interpretations of this assumption, one conceptual and one psychological. I argue that, on both interpretations, the assumption is false—at least according to independently plausible accounts of obligations to oneself and of what it means to waive an obligation. My arguments paint a picture of obligations to oneself that not only challenges the argument against their coherence, but also illuminates these obligations’ relationship to other parts of the moral domain.

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Janis David Schaab
Utrecht University

Citations of this work

Wronging Oneself.Daniel Muñoz & Nathaniel Baron-Schmitt - 2024 - Journal of Philosophy 121 (4):181-207.
From rights to prerogatives.Daniel Muñoz - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (3):608-623.
Duties to Oneself and Their Alleged Incoherence.Yuliya Kanygina - 2022 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (3):565-579.

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References found in this work

Practical reason and norms.Joseph Raz - 1975 - London: Hutchinson.
Practical Reason and Norms.Joseph Raz - 1975 - Law and Philosophy 12 (3):329-343.
Yes Means Yes: Consent as Communication.Tom Dougherty - 2015 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 43 (3):224-253.
The Paradox of Duties to Oneself.Daniel Muñoz - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):691-702.

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