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Imperfect Duties and Good Will

Segal, Aaron Eli (2022) Imperfect Duties and Good Will. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Many moral philosophers, especially in the Kantian tradition, have thought of the relation between the domains of justice and beneficence in terms of a distinction between perfect and imperfect duties. Further, they typically assume that only perfect duties can be directed to particular individuals. In my dissertation, I argue that this assumption is false: some imperfect duties are directed to particular individuals by requiring that we express to them a distinctive kind of good will. In addition to having important consequences for debates in normative ethics, the view of imperfect duties that I develop provides novel explanations for the ways in which they differ from other duties: they are indeterminate while sometimes necessitating particular actions, they are unenforceable by means of demand, and discharging them places others under obligation. More generally, I argue that duties of good will have a distinctive role in morality, and concern the domain of the social, which lies in between the juridical and the ethical. They enable us to live our lives in community with others.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Segal, Aaron Eliaessegal@gmail.comaes127
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairThompson,
Committee MemberEngstrom,
Committee MemberWhiting,
Committee MemberTenenbaum,
Date: 12 October 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 14 August 2022
Approval Date: 12 October 2022
Submission Date: 4 August 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 122
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Morality, Duty, Good Will
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2022 16:24
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2022 16:24


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