Category Archives: Deontology and Moral Responsibility

‘Special Obligations’

“Special obligations are obligations owed to some subset of persons, in contrast to natural duties that are owed to all persons simply qua persons. Common sense morality seems to understand us as having special obligations to those to whom we stand in some sort of special relationship, eg, our friends, our family members, our colleagues, […]

Loren Lomasky, ‘The Impossibility of a Virtue Ethic’

ABSTRACT Virtue ethics is increasingly regarded as a viable alternative to consequentialist or deontological systems of normative ethics. This paper argues that there can be no such triumvirate of contending comprehensive ethical systems. That is not because virtue is unimportant but rather because genuine virtue is excellent and therefore rare. For most people in most […]

Michael Da Silva, ‘Correlativity and the Case Against a Common Presumption About the Structure of Rights’

INTRODUCTION In its most basic form, a ‘right’ is an entitlement to performance of an action by an individual that grounds a further entitlement to censure that individual absent performance. While debates about what rights seek to protect (eg, interests or choices to demand performance of acts that may not be in our interest) and/or […]

Sandy Steel, ‘Compensation and Continuity’

ABSTRACT This paper is about the justification of moral duties to compensate. It examines one family of justifications for these duties – justifications which hold that the duty to compensate is justified as a continuation of the original duty breached, the reasons justifying that duty, or the right infringed or violated. It clarifies these accounts, […]

Eugene Chislenko, ‘Scanlon’s Theories of Blame’

INTRODUCTION … What sort of reaction is blame? Scanlon’s remarks on this topic raise an exegetical question, whose importance has not been investigated in detail. ‘To claim that a person is blameworthy for an action’, Scanlon writes, ‘is to claim that the action shows something about the agent’s attitudes toward others that impairs the relations […]

‘What is the Moral Problem with Private Tyranny? Is Contract to Blame?’

John Gardner, The Contractualisation of Labour Law and Hugh Collins, Is the Contract of Employment Illiberal?, both in Philosophical Foundations of Labour Law (Collins et al, eds, 2019). Both of the first two chapters of this new edited volume … grapple with the structure of employment relationships and how they relate to their legal form. […]

Paulina Sliwa, ‘The Power of Excuses’

INTRODUCTION … Here is how the article will proceed. I start by examining two influential accounts of excuses: one recently defended by Jay Wallace, the other tracing back to David Hume. I argue that, while initially promising, both accounts face significant problems. I then develop an alternative, the Good Intention Account, and showcase its advantages. […]

‘Legal Theory Lexicon: Virtue Ethics’

“The Legal Theory Lexicon already includes posts on Deontology and Utilitarianism – representing two important families of ethical theory. This week, the Lexicon provides an introduction to virtue ethics. As always, the Lexicon provides a quick and dirty summary with an eye to law students (especially first-year law students) with an interest in legal theory. […]

Julian Jonker, ‘Contractualist Justification and the Direction of a Duty’

ABSTRACT To whom is a duty owed? Contractualism answers with an interest theory of direction. As such, it faces three challenges. The Conceptual Challenge requires acknowledgment that a duty is conceptually distinct from an interest. The Extensional Challenge requires an account of cases in which one who is owed a duty does not take an […]

Joao Andrade Neto, ‘On the (dis)Similar Properties of Legal and Moral Duties’

ABSTRACT Do legal and moral duties share exactly the same properties? Moral philosophers such as Hare, Searle, and WD Ross believe that moral conflicts exist in which an individual has equally good reasons to fulfil two or more obligations that cannot be simultaneously satisfied. In such cases, they say, one has ‘reasons other things being […]