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Moral Writings$
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H. A. Prichard and Jim MacAdam

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199250196

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199250197.001.0001

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A Conflict of Duties

A Conflict of Duties

(p.77) 5. A Conflict of Duties
Moral Writings

H. A. Prichard

Oxford University Press

In his general account of moral thought, Prichard holds that to regard a given action as right, we must imagine ourselves to be in a certain set of circumstances. In doing so, we conceive of ourselves as bound by those circumstances to perform that action. Since we have various general convictions about moral obligation, no single characteristic leads us to regard right acts as right. When two general convictions conflict, we are not in a position to know what our duty is. Being ignorant of some relevant circumstances, we cannot answer the question ‘What ought we to do?’ This follows from the fact that no common characteristic renders actions into duties.

Keywords:   action, duty, moral thought, obligation, right

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