Duties to Make Friends

Stephanie Collins

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Why, morally speaking, ought we do more for our family and friends than for strangers? In other words, what is the justification of special duties? According to partialists, the answer to this question cannot be reduced to impartial moral principles. According to impartialists, it can. This paper briefly argues in favour of impartialism, before drawing out an implication of the impartialist view: in addition to justifying some currently recognised special duties, impartialism also generates new special duties that are not yet widely recognised. Specifically, in certain situations, impartial principles generate duties to take actions and adopt attitudes in our personal lives that increase the chance of new or different special relationships being formed-new or different friendships, family-like relationships, relationships akin to co-nationality, and so on. In fact, even if one thinks partialism is the best justification of the duties we have once in special relationships, impartialist justifications for taking steps to form such relationships should have some sway. Moreover, a little reflection shows that these duties are not as demanding or counterintuitive as one might expect. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-921
Number of pages14
JournalEthical theory and Moral Practice
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Partiality
  • Relationships
  • Special duties


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