Frankfurt's Exceptions To Moral Obligation

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Frankfurt is of the believe that philosophers are obsessed with the notion that human behavior invariably resorts back to morality. Moral obligation has become the automatic justification to explain many actually far more complicated individual practices. Frankfurt puts forward the idea that love is one of those exceptions to moral obligation, in that is is not conventionally driven by our morals and is actually a basic human necessity that we have no real power over. He argues that love is involuntary and therefore not bound by ethics. Frankfurt puts forward a number of ways in which love is separate to duty. He states that one of the key factors is that “love is disinterested”1. We “desire the well-being of his beloved for it's…show more content…
He discusses that “We often make things important to us ... simply by caring about them”4 he continues by saying “My children are so important to me precisely because I love them”5. The importance of our children in our lives comes from our love for them. Yes, we are duty bound to our children and they are incredibly valuable to us, but it is our love for them that creates their value. This essentially proves the point that love is valuable in it's own right, without obligation. Similarly, Frankfurt provides an example of two people giving money to a needy person, supposing both men give the money because the person needs it, and both to help the person, the action and reason for both men are the same, the money is given to help a person who needs it. However, the difference between the two situations is that one man gave the money out of duty or moral obligation, and the other out of love for fellow man. The man who gives out of duty believes that he should help the needy based on his perceptions of moral obligation in society and believes that to be the reason for giving the money. The man who does so out of love cannot use love as a reason for helping, as it only partially explains his actions, he helps the needy person because he is of the belief that the money will help, and he wants to help because he loves them. It is arguable that we may, by default, fulfill our own needs with this love for other, but Frankfurt argues that this is “only because in loving (man) forgets himself”6. Furthermore people may contend that if we were to betray our love, what we fear is the “penalties for betraying the moral law”7 but Frankfurt disputes this in saying, “The reason that we must not betray what we love is that we must not betray

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