CHAPTER III
DUTIES

The subject of this chapter is written in the plural for a specific purpose. It should be made plain that duty as an abstract conception can have little or no influence in effecting a genuine moral decision. The fallacy of Kant's dogma which prescribes the performance of duty "for duty's sake" has already been exposed. Action from a general sense of obligation usually means no action at all. The alternative course is to set up and enforce the particular duties belonging to a particular type of conduct. Civil law does this in a graphic manner. It informs the citizen in precise terms what he is expected to do and to leave undone. Thus, when a contract is made between two parties providing for the establishment of a partnership for the transaction of business, certain requirements are made binding upon both and cannot be canceled except by mutual consent. It is therefore the duty of each person to carry out the terms of the agreement to the letter. If either fail so to do, he will, upon complaint of the other, suffer the disabilities imposed by law. In every case, abstract principles are recognized and observed; but the emphasis rests on the discharge of the duties indicated in the instrument.

A similar demand is felt in the field of moral action generally. Duty is a specific kind of behavior expressed in a specific and concrete decision of will. It is idle to tell a man that he is under moral constraint to seek for happiness or the realization of self or the development of good character. These are general canons of thought, ends which the analytic mind discusses as possible incentives to conduct. But duty is not general; it is explicit; and we may therefore best exhibit its place in the moral economy by representing its

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