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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 38, Issue 4, October 2012

Brynn F. Welch
Pages 717-737
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract201238438

A Theory of Filial Obligations

Despite the fact that many people face pressing questions about what they are morally required to do for their aging parents, surprisingly little has been said in the literature about filial obligations. After considering and rejecting two theories--Gratitude Theory and Special Goods Theory--this paper offers a novel, blended theory of filial obligations, called the Gratitude for Special Goods Theory. On this view, grown children often have extensive obligations to meet their parents’ needs, for doing so serves as an expression of gratitude for the parents’ past provision of goods to the child.

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