Duty to One's Parents

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Week 7: Duty to One’s Parents
Jane English “What Do Grown Children Owe Their Parents?”
- It is inappropriate to view obligations to one’s parents as a repaying a debt
Favours - - - Non-Favours
- an act is obligatory because on has asked - act is seen simply as a friendly gesture
Duties of friendship
- Friendship is characterized by mutuality, not reciprocity
- Motivated by love or mutual affection, not the prospects of repayment
- There should be no expectations of repayment,
o Taking one out to dinner is not expected to repay
o 3 dinners vs 1 dinner inappropriate to say one ‘owes’ more
End of Friendship
- If a friendship ends, then a duty ends
- However, if a friend is in need one ought to help if they have the ability and
resources. The obligation remains the same if it were any other person in
Parents and Grown Children
- The notion of sacrifice is irrelevant in determining what if any obligations
children have to their parents
- Sacrifices do not provide the source of obligations to friends or parents
3 Cases
Nicholas Dixon “The Friendship Model of Filial Obligation”
Dixon agrees with English
Filial obligations are not a repayment for parental sacrifices: filial obligations arise
from the friendship that these sacrifices may have played a role in creating
Duties of friendship can outlive the friendship: residual duties
Only worry about the contrast between Dixon and English
Stronger duty towards former friend then a stranger
This is to show respect for both our former friend and former self
To treat friend as stranger exhibits two vices:
- Inconstancy: disposition to be overly fickler, certain instability to ones
- Inauthenticity: lack of acknowledge of ones’ past
Friendships end for various reasons
- Do not always end in moral disagreement
- Sometimes they do end in moral disagreement someone’s views may offend
you and you will no longer want to be friends with them
- It does make a difference how the friendship ended whether one feels more
obligated to a former friend than a stranger/acquaintance
- What about the distinction between friendly acquaintances and former friends?
- Someone you see everyday versus someone who is no longer apart of your life
- Does it really matter whether you save the friend or the stranger? Makes no
difference to who we save.
- Consider the difference of the lives that they live. Is one a mother? Do they have
a greater moral obligation to survive?
Residual Duties
1. They are morally weaker than those we have towards our current friends
2. There is a sliding scale
Three factors are central:
1. The extent of parental need
2. Depth and duration of former friendly relations
3. The reason for and the severity of the argument are caused by estangement