Placement of special obligation in morality
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] My thesis attempts to explain how special obligations are moral obligations. The morality of special obligations is put into question by the thesis of voluntarism. Voluntarism explains that we have obligations only if we have voluntarily done or chose something to generate them. Special obligations, on the other hand, are not easily captured as obligations that are generated by voluntary doing or choosing. I will examine some accounts that try to ground the morality of special obligation in light of this problem. Ultimately, I will reject voluntarism for a roles-based account of our special obligations. After doing this, I will consider one other central concern we have, one which centers on the notion of value. This, as we will see, poses the challenge of explaining why special obligations are not to be abandoned. I will suggest that that the debate about abandonment makes sense only if we assume that our roles and the special obligations associated with them are things that we can give up. This is an assumption that is not legitimated by any of our beliefs, and so should be considered false.
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