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Social Theory and Practice

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published on April 9, 2020

Tina Rulli

Conditional Obligations

Some obligations are conditional such that act A is morally optional, but if one chooses A, one is required to do act B rather than some other less valuable act C. Such conditional obligations arise frequently in research ethics, in the philosophical literature, and in real life. They are controversial: how does a morally optional act give rise to demanding requirements to do the best? Some think that the fact that a putative obligation has a conditional structure, so defined, is a strike against its being a genuine obligation. I argue that conditional obligations are to be expected in a moral theory that has moral options.

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