Directed Duties and Moral RepairSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
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Many moral duties are directed: if J promises S that J will phi, then J owes it to S to phi. What does directedness add to a duty? One way to answer this question is by understanding the practical difference made by directedness, and the importance of acknowledging that difference. What practical difference does it make that a duty is directed? If J owes it to S to phi then S has special standing in our practice of accountability and moral repair. In particular, S is the proper recipient of apology and redress, and S has the power to forgive J. This is a more illuminating version of the common suggestions that S has special standing to blame J for not phiing, or to demand that J phi, or to claim J’s phiing. Why then does directedness matter? A practice of accountability that gives special standing to S makes available a distinctive form of recognition that comes as close as is possible to repairing the original wrongdoing. Without directed duties, we would stand to lose this form of moral repair, and to lose sight of the interest that human beings have in recognition. The interest in recognition can itself be vindicated in Strawsonian fashion. Also, recognition is a component of respect, and so we can make sense of Feinberg's claim that there is a connection between respect and directedness.