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Children, Debts, Obligations, And Sommers. Essay

1084 words - 4 pages

Suppose that your mother is 80 years old and cannot perform simple tasks that are necessary for day to day life. She is not capable of preparing food, going to the bathroom unassisted, or even walking up the stairs. She lives her days out in a nursing home, where she attended to by nurses and staff members - rarely hearing from her own family. You, on the other hand, are in the prime of your life. With a wife and kids, and a career that is flying, what more could you ask for? As the years have gone by, you have had less and less time to call her, let alone visit her in Florida. After all, you're busy with your family, friends, and job in New York: a trip to Florida would mean taking at least a few days off from work, even a week. Who has time for that?Well, according to Christina Hoff Sommers: You had better make the time. In her essay "Filial Morality", Sommers deals with the idea that children hold certain obligations towards their parents. In the beginning of her essay she states, "In what follows I shall be arguing for a strong notion of filial obligation, and more generally I shall be making a case for the special moral obligation" (Sommers 739). She then gives three examples, in which, the parents or parental figure have grown old and are neglected by the children. Much like the hypothetical situation explained in the first paragraph of this essay, it is "what seems to be censurable failure on the part of adult children to respect their parents or nurturers" (739). After being there for every fall, cut, bruise, or sprain; these parents were all left to fend for themselves in their old age. None of these children felt an obligation or a sense of duty to give back the same kind of care for their own parents. That is not how it ought to be. Children have a special obligation first and foremost, to their parents. This is applied when the parents have done everything within their power to give their children a proper upbringing. In other words, this does not apply to neglectful, abusive, or irresponsible nurturers.This responsibility that children have will ultimately influence their "moral domain". Sommers explains this domain as:...consisting of what G.J. Warnock calls 'moral patients.' Equivalently, it consists of beings that have what Robert Nozick calls 'ethical pull.' A being has ethical pull if it is ethically 'considerable'; minimally, it is a being that should not be ill treated by a moral agent and whose ill treatment directly wrongs it. (743)The force of this domain has many theories. In a Kantian and utilitarian view, the ethical pull exerted by a moral agent is equal to all others. If, for example, a woman needed financial assistance as well as a poor boy living on the streets, the ethical pull of each on the woman's son would be the same. It is an idea of impartiality. The utilitarian view differs slightly in that a person's desires are considerable but exert an equal attracting on all of the moral agents (743).Contrary to this...

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