Duty to Self: Moral, Political, and Legal Self-Relation

ISBN : 9780190941758

Paul Schofield
240 Pages
140 x 210 mm
Pub date
May 2021
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That we owe duties to others is a commonplace, the subject of countless philosophical treatises and monographs. Morality is interpersonal and other-directed, many claim. But what of what we owe ourselves? In Duty to Self, Paul Schofield flips the paradigm of interpersonal morality by arguing that there are moral duties we owe ourselves, and that in light of this, philosophers need to significantly rethink many of their views about practical reason, moral psychology, politics, and moral emotions. Among these views is the idea that divisions within a person's life enable her to relate to herself second-personally-that is, as though she were relating to a distinct other person-in the way required by morality. Further, there exist political duties owed to the self, which the state may coerce persons to perform. This amounts to a novel argument for paternalistic law, which appeals to considerations of right, justice, and freedom in order to justify coercing a person for their own sake-a liberal justification for an idea typically thought to be deeply at odds with liberalism. Schofield untangles how this view would impact various issues in applied ethics and political philosophy, for example, financial prudence and risk, the pursuit of the good life, and medical ethics. Duty to Self is essential for anyone working in moral and political philosophy or political theory.


Chapter 1: On the Significance of Duties to the Self
Chapter 2: Troubles for Duties to the Self
Chapter 3: Defending Duties to the Self Part 1: Duties Across Time
Chapter 4: Defending Duties to the Self Part 2: Duties at a Moment
Chapter 5: Might There Be Self-Directed Political Duties? Troubles for State Paternalism
Chapter 6: Defending Political Duties to the Self: The Possibility of Liberal Paternalism
Chapter 7: Practical Philosophy After Duties to Self

About the author: 

Paul Schofield is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He writes about ethics, politics, and film.

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