duty


Duty, Honor, Country
Image by Roger Smith via Flickr

From Wikipedia:

Duty (from “due,” that which is owing, O. Fr. deu, did, past participle of devoir; Lat. debere, debitum; cf. “debt“) is a term that conveys a sense of moral commitment to someone or something. The moral commitment is the sort that results in action[citation needed] and it is not a matter of passive feeling or mere recognition. When someone recognizes a duty, that person commits himself/herself to the cause involved without considering the self-interested courses of actions that may have been relevant previously. This is not to suggest that living a life of duty precludes one of the best sorts of lives but duty does involve some sacrifice of immediate self-interest.

Cicero is an early philosopher who acknowledged this possibility. He discusses duty in his work “On Duty.” He suggests that duties can come from four different sources:

  1. a result of being human
  2. It is a result of one’s particular place in life (your family, your country, your job)
  3. It is a result of one’s character
  4. One’s own moral expectations for oneself can generate duties

From the root idea of obligation to serve or give something in return, involved in the conception of duty, have sprung various derivative uses of the word; thus it is used of the services performed by aminister of a church, by a soldier, or by any employee or servant.

Many schools of thought have debated the idea of duty. While many assert mankind’s duty on their own terms, some philosophers have absolutely rejected a sense of duty.

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One thought on “duty”

  1. Much like anything else, a person is free to define a word as they see fit, of course keeping in mind the difficulties they will face communicating with others later.
    Given the vaporous and frequently contradictory usage of the word duty today, I would not feel out of bounds stitching its meaning and an encompassing school of thought from whole cloth.

    I would say a responsibility is something you demand of yourself,
    an obligation is something someone else demands of you,
    and a duty is an obligation you take responsibility of.

    Hm! That’s a rather keen relationship with paragraphs of elaboratable implications!

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