The Justification of Associative Duties

in Journal of Moral Philosophy
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People often think that their special relationships with family, friends, comrades and compatriots, can ground moral reasons. Among these reasons, they understand some to be duties – pro tanto requirements that have genuine weight when they conflict with other considerations. In this paper I ask: what is the underlying moral structure of associative duties? I first consider and reject the orthodox Teleological Welfarist account, which first observes that special relationships are fundamental for human well-being, then claims that we cannot have these relationships, if we do not recognise associative duties, before concluding that we should therefore recognise associative duties. I then introduce a nonteleological alternative, grounded in the Appropriate Response approach to ethical theory.

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    Simon Keller‘Four Theories of Filial Duty,’ The Philosophical Quarterly56/223 (2006) 254–74 265.

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    John Cottingham‘Partiality, Favouritism and Morality,’ The Philosophical Quarterly36/144 (1986) 357–73 369.

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    Samuel SchefflerBoundaries and Allegiances: Problems of Justice and Responsibility in Liberal Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press2002) 59. See also Scheffler Boundaries 93. Much of the book is an exploration of a view that Scheffler does not endorse; his own view is closer to the appropriate response view as noted below.

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  • 5

    Joseph Raz‘Liberating Duties,’ Law and Philosophy8/1 (1989) 3–21 14–15; David Miller ‘Reasonable Partiality Towards Compatriots’ Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8/1 (2005) 63–81 65; Andrew Mason Community Solidarity and Belonging: Levels of Community and Their Normative Significance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2000) 99ff. For other writers who emphasize ‘human flourishing’ see Jonathan Seglow ‘Associative Duties and Global Distributive Justice’ Journal of Moral Philosophy 4; Scheffler Boundaries 107; Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift ‘Parents’ Rights and the Value of the Family’ Ethics 117/1 (2006) 80–108 95.

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    Friedman‘The Practice of Partiality’ 820; Yael Tamir Liberal Nationalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press 1993) 97. Other instrumentalists include Amitai Etzioni ‘Are Particularistic Obligations Justified? A Communitarian Examination’ The Review of Politics 64/4 (2002) 573–98 596.

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    Miller‘Reasonable Partiality’ 65.

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    Raz‘Liberating Duties’ 20.

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    MasonCommunity Solidarity and Belonging108–9. See also Horton ‘In Defense of Associative Political Obligations: Part One’ 436–8; John Horton ‘In Defense of Associative Political Obligations: Part Two’ Political Studies 55/1 (2007) 1–19 7.

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  • 14

    Etzioni‘Are Particularistic Obligations Justified?’ 587.

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    Andrew Mason‘Special Obligations to Compatriots,’ Ethics107/3 (1997) 427–47 446.

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     See for example Roger Crisp‘Equality, Priority, and Compassion,’ Ethics113/4 (2003) 745–63; Mason Community Solidarity and Belonging; Andrew Moore and Roger Crisp ‘Welfarism in Moral Theory’ Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74/4 (1996) 598–613; Larry S. Temkin ‘Harmful Goods Harmless Bads’ in R. G. Frey and Christopher W. Morris (eds.) Value Welfare and Morality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1993) 290–324; Larry S. Temkin ‘Equality Priority and the Levelling Down Objection’ in Matthew Clayton and Andrew Williams (eds.) The Ideal of Equality (Basingstoke: Palgrave 2000) 126–61.

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  • 33

    ScanlonWhat We Owe95–6. Scanlon emphasizes the importance of concentrating on our responses to valuable properties rather than our responses to value as such. I endorse this view.

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  • 34

    AndersonValue1-2; Scanlon What We Owe 95–6.

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    AndersonValue11 17; Scanlon What We Owe 95.

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    AndersonValue33; Scanlon What We Owe 88 101.

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    Thomas Hurka‘Proportionality in the Morality of War,’ Philosophy & Public Affairs33/1 (2005) 34–66; Jeff McMahan The Ethics of Killing in War (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2009).

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  • 43

    Lawrence A. BlumFriendship Altruism and Morality (London: Routledge1980); Cottingham ‘Partiality Favouritism and Morality’ 369.

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