So-called “relational,” “directed,” or “bipolar” obligations are those that are owed to someone. They have a distinctive normative profile that involves a form of personal accountability that is not involved in moral obligations period (or “pure and simple”). When we are obligated to someone, they have a distinctive individual authority, as the very person to whom we are obligated, to release or insist on performance and, if the obligation is violated, to seek compensation, forgive, and so on. As important as these obligations are, I argue that we can nonetheless not do without the concept of moral obligation period. Even if there were no moral obligations period that are not also owed to obligees, we need the concept of moral obligation period in our moral thought because of its conceptual connection to culpability and, therefore, to reasons for action.
Wednesday, November 13 at 3:00pm to 5:00pm
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