A Conflict of Duties

H. A. Prichard

in Moral Writings

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780199250196
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598265 | DOI:

Series: British Moral Philosophers

 A Conflict of Duties

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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

Chapter.  3742 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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