MORAL DEBT, Regulatory value of moral duty - Professional ethics of a lawyer


As a result of mastering the material in this chapter, the student must:


• the content and characteristics inherent in the action of moral duty among other moral regulators;

be able to

• Relate the notion of moral duty to existing moral responsibilities;


• the skills to assess their actions in terms of fulfilling the requirements of moral debt.

Regulatory value of moral debt

The problem of moral duty is traditional for ethics, since it, along with conscience, honor, dignity, refers to the regulative elements of moral consciousness. His belonging to the most important values ​​of morality is due to the importance of the call addressed to the individual.

In the general plan, moral debt can be defined as free adherence to socially necessary requirements presented by an individual to himself. The latter should be emphasized in particular, since not so long ago in the domestic ethic there was a notion that debt is "the sum of the demands made by a social institution for members of society" . From this statement it follows that the state can act as a moral authority. This view is a reflection of the 70-year period of the history of the country, when the totalitarian system strictly controlled not only actions, but also thoughts and feelings of people. It was in these conditions that a situation became possible where the act of Pavlik Morozov, which had been brought against his own father, inadmissible from the standpoint of universal moral morality, was submitted as a model for imitation.

In the previous chapter, it was already said that the sphere of due in its legal and moral form begins to form in the transition from tribal relations to the relations of social inequality. The consequence of this is the distinction between personal, group and social interests, which not only coincide, but even conflict with each other. There is a need to regulate the behavior of individuals so that in everyday life they are guided not only by their own, but also by the interests of the social community to which they belong. It is this function in practice that is performed by moral obligations and duty.

Responsibilities - this is a certain range of actions, the implementation of which is determined by the requirements imposed on the individual by the people around him, society and the state. In reality, moral duty and duties are closely intertwined, do not act in isolation from each other, and in everyday life are often used as equivalent concepts. However, duties and duties are not identical. Their nature is different, the mechanism of action. Each of these concepts has its own specifics.

First, the concept of duties has a more general character than the "moral duty of the individual." When we talk about current or day-to-day duties, we do not necessarily mean a certain moral sense (for example, the distribution of economic responsibilities in the family). The latter may be absent altogether or be extremely poorly expressed, since most often the duties are purely technical, being a means of achieving a specific goal in various technological processes. Obligations can be equally addressed to a multitude of people, and therefore the degree of obligation is expressed here more weakly. Debt is always disclosed from the individual side, i.e. the way he is understood by a specific person.

Secondly, duties, as a rule, are perceived by people as something external, representing other's interests. Even so-called honorary duties often act as an inevitable kind of burden that people have to put up with. In a totalitarian society, the principle of unity of rights and duties is declared: the granted right is presented as a kind of reward for the performance of certain socially significant duties. Therefore, the individual's readiness to perform certain duties may vary significantly: from unconditional adherence to them everywhere and everywhere, to attempts to evade execution and even outright ignoring.

A distinctive feature of moral duty is that it is voluntarily performed without any outside compulsion. Although a sense of duty is only one of the possible motives for the act, but its significance is most significant. The formation of a sense of duty is determined by the contradictory correlation of social, group and personal interests in the microcosm of the individual. Saying that the public interest is at the base of the moral duty, we point to the transition of the external demand into the sphere of internal obligation. The individual thereby recognizes the priority of values ​​of a higher level than his own interests. Emotionally experienced feelings (for example, satisfaction with a fulfilled debt) are combined with the rational justification of the goal that a person pursues in this case. This debt differs from conscience.

The value of a rational element in the process of a person's comprehension of what his moral duty is, is exceptionally great. Only by correlating various interests and values, comparing them with each other, it is possible to determine the priority of some in relation to others. Moral feelings can help an individual to find the right path, but are not able to replace himself that which is the whole prerogative of the human mind. LA Seneca warned against giving in exclusively to the will of feelings, emotions. "The greatest calamity causes us," thought the thinker, "that we are conformed to rumor and, recognizing the most correct those views that meet great sympathy and find many followers, we live not as the mind requires, but as others live." . Feelings are deceptive, and even more dangerous is the possibility that they can be simply inspired, thus pushing us to the wrong path. That's why "our most important task must be that we are not investigators, like cattle, behind the leaders of the herd, so that we go not where others go, but wherever the duty is directed" .

Along with the rational-theoretical and sensually-emotional levels of reflection, it is his beliefs that are an important element in the regulation of the individual's relationship to moral duty The presence of convictions makes it possible to give a completed view to the sphere properly in the very man, and also to tie together the totality of values ​​professed by him. The most striking is the interaction of beliefs with the moral ideal, establishing dependence on which allows you to understand the direction, content and conditions that affect the formation of a person's moral debt. Depending on the place of this or that ideal in the hierarchy of moral values, a person's understanding of his moral duty changes. The plurality of values ​​is reflected in the fact that within the framework of one ideal there can be several targets pursued by a person. Accordingly, in the structure of the moral debt, the requirements of the first, second, third tier are singled out.

The moral debt is closely intertwined with conscience, which acts as a sort of control mechanism regarding the requirements that the person presents to himself. The more clearly a person is aware of the moral goals pursued by him in each concrete case, the stronger he feels the moral responsibility for achieving them. Therefore, the deed of conscience will be deeper. The feeling of conscience allows us once again to turn to a reflection on what our duty is and what our real goals are in this case. An unsettled conscience urges a person to fulfill his duty, forcing him to analyze the meaning of perfect actions time after time.

Although the theme of moral duty is traditional for ethical thought, not so many philosophers turned to the consideration of this topic. Its finished form, that form of representation with which we are dealing nowadays, the doctrine of duty acquired in the philosophical concept of Immanuel Kant. The categorical imperative (from Latin imperatives - imperative) is the term for the value of the moral duty formulated by the German scientist human life is a detailed theoretical construction that contains a completely definite solution to the question of the relationship between what is and what is proper, moral freedom and necessity, the moral law and the autonomous will of the subject.

The doctrine of a categorical imperative refers to the XVIII century, when liberal notions of the priority of individual human rights ensured the ethical and legal justification for the emerging social order. The new social reality - the individual freed from all previous traditional ties and relations - dictated the need to develop new forms of interaction between external (objective) and internal (subjective) regulation of people's behavior. It was necessary to tie together the openly proclaimed inner moral autonomy of the individual with his voluntary adherence to the requirements of public morality. It is this role that the concept of the categorical imperative fulfills, which, in Kant's ethics, integrates the whole system of moral regulation.

The scientific literature has developed an approach according to which three basic formulas of the categorical imperative are distinguished. Each of them reflects both the stages of Kant's movement of thought and reveals aspects of inner obligation in man.

First the formula emphasizes the ability maxims (from Latin maxima sentential is the highest principle) of individual behavior to be the basis of universal moral law. "Act only according to such a maxim," says the thinker, "guided by which you at the same time may wish that it become a universal law" . This requirement is universal and universal: it contains a call that retains its importance in relation to all people and operates under any circumstances, in any spheres of life and the activities of man and society. In the above statement, his direct relationship to the golden rule of morality, which affirms universal moral equality, is guessed.

The second formula defines our duty to other people and establishes a kind of moral barrier, which is unacceptable under any conditions. This situation of I. Kant is as follows: "Do so that you always treat humanity and in your face, and in the person of everyone else as well as to the goal and never treat it only as a means" . Formally equalizing all the first variant of the categorical imperative in the second takes a very real meaning. In fact, here is an indication of another person as an addressee, which we must include in the content of the moral goal pursued by us. Following the strict requirements of morality, we thereby mean the good of the people around us.

The third formula speaks of the autonomy of the human will. The moral law, from this point of view, is not something external, imputed to the person for compulsory execution. Its effectiveness is ensured by the fact that everyone chooses him as the maxim of his behavior completely freely, voluntarily, in the absence of any coercion on the part of society. The element of coercion, if present, is determined solely by the person's own effort and, therefore, acts as a self-coercion. It is true that "debt is a moral law, manifested as a human motive" . In this sense, he suppresses all other motives, such as: benefit, happiness, pleasure, etc. Adherence to the requirements of duty is the whole goal of a moral person, regardless of his interests and inclinations.

Throughout the subsequent history of ethical thought, attempts have repeatedly been made to challenge the rigor of the formulas of the categorical imperative. The first attempts of this kind were made soon after the death of I. Kant, in particular, Georg Wilhelm Frederick Hegel (1770-1831), who chose to criticize the extreme formalism of ethics of his predecessor.

Today in the scientific literature, there are occasional disputes about the legitimacy of preserving the value of values, such as moral duty, conscience, honor. Raised by A. Schopenhauer and F. Nietzsche, on the one hand, and K. Marx, on the other, the question of the necessity of abandoning some, as it sometimes seems, "obsolete" His ideas continue to exist even now. In this respect, the position according to which the position is unacceptable when ethical abstractions still "have power over people and control their behavior". The idea of ​​a categorical imperative at the same time belongs wholly to the past, and the so-called liberal morality that generates it no longer revolves around debt, is not a morality of duty. " . Hence follows the conclusion about the need to review the status that the category we are considering in morality and ethics.

It seems to us that we should not exaggerate the importance of moral duty in a person's everyday life, and minimize its regulatory role. Since the days of I. Kant, an important feature of the debt has been singled out as its imperativeness, , which, in fact, contains all the other characteristics. It is addressed to all people and to each person at the same time; requires in all circumstances to be guided by moral duty; excludes any considerations of use or common sense; suggests that the moral choice of the individual can only be carried out voluntarily, but in no case under pressure, forcedly.

Concluded in a categorical imperative, the demand today may seem to someone extremely out-of-date, untimely and even old-fashioned. According to a fair comment, the "modern mass consciousness ... is guided, rather, by the" golden rule ", which always acts as a formula of worldly wisdom, as a practical recommendation . A man of duty - this was the old saying about an exceptionally reliable person, whose word could be relied on. In the past, such people were not too many. Obviously, in our time the situation has not changed much.

Moral choice, carried out in favor of free execution of the requirements of social morality, is especially relevant in periods when the society is changing moral guidelines. There are various obstacles that for people with weak will can serve as a kind of justification for non-fulfillment of existing moral obligations. And such people, as historical experience shows, is not so little. At the same time, in the conditions of the disintegration of the habitual way of life, following one's debt is for many the only and sometimes the last support. Exceptional importance, therefore, acquires the issue of conditions that can facilitate the performance of an individual's moral duty, or, conversely, make it difficult.

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