Digest of terms

duty

sense of moral obligation identified across civilisations and religions, seen as arising within families and tribal groups, or whole nations. In African Traditional Religion it is strongly evident in relation to the Ancestors. In Chinese Confucian and Taoist tradition filial duties are particularly strong. In Hindu and Buddhist traditions it is elaborated in the duties of dharma and applied to ritual responsibilities as well as behaviour in everyday life. For Jews, Christians and Muslims, the stress is on the dual responsibility to God and fellow human being.

In western moral philosophy it is highlighted by Immanual Kant as distinguishing humanity from other animal beings. He speaks of it as a "categorical imperative", or distinctive drive. If we fail to attend to it, we are lesser beings than potentially we might be. The challenge for education is one of learning how to authenticate the legitimacy of the source of a particular sense of duty and how to distinguish between the competing claims of one duty over another.

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