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Duty Ethics And Family Ordeals

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Duty Ethics
  3. Family Issues
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography


In my discussion board three, I talked about the approach I chose as my metaethics. Discussion board four was an attempt to solve an issue with a family member with a gambling problem using applied ethics. In this paper I will be going more in depth about duty ethics and family ordeals. I will attempt to answer the question of, is it moral to use duty ethics to deal with family issues? With that being said, I will briefly explain just what duty ethics is to begin this paper. The basis of my paper is using a theory by Immanuel Kant. Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who lived during the late 18th Century. Kant saw duty as the central principle of ethics and developed a system based on it. This system was called Duty Ethics, Kantian Ethics, or Deontological Ethics. [1: Jones. “Moral Reasoning,”83]

Duty Ethics

Deontological ethics roughly means Duty. What is Deontology? It is the study of rule or duty-based ethics. For example, a manager at a job has deontic authority to assign tasks or duties that an employee is obliged to accept and must obey. Regardless of the appropriateness of the task assigned, the employee has the duty to obey, if they want to keep their job. Hopefully a manager wouldn’t assign tasks that are morally wrong and expect someone to obey them, if it goes against their moral beliefs. Based on the reading in chapter seven in “Moral Reasoning”, it is easy to see that Kant had some assumptions. One of those assumptions was that only human beings are capable of rationality. The second assumption is that as a rational being, we should be acting in accordance with one’s moral duty rather than one’s desires. He believed that it is imperative to protect that rationality and that ability to be rational in all human beings. Furthermore, Kant believed that we have two ethical imperatives that should guide our actions. One was the question of what is best for everyone equally? The second question was what will sustain the needs of each human being equally? We all have moral obligations that should motivate our behavior. Some choices may seem like they are wrong but will result in some type of benefit. As a result, those choices fail to show our duty to do what’s right. Following the rules is more important than the outcome. The consequences of an action don’t justify the means of which is taken to achieve it. Duty ethics involves someone’s morals and thinking about what the outcome of aa decision might be.

Our happiness or satisfaction can’t determine the morality of our decisions. Duty is a moral or legal obligation. You could also say that a duty is something that you are required to do. Regardless of what morals you possess, you have a duty to someone or something. At any given time, someone is counting on you to do the right thing. Sometimes it may not be so obvious that someone is counting on you, and we have to kind of read between the lines to figure it out. Kant’s Deontological Ethics is talking about the moral rightness of an action itself. For example, you are in a class with a friend who is in danger of failing the class. He really needs to pass this class to graduate. He hasn’t prepared for the final exam properly and has asked if I would help him cheat. Failing the class would not be good for his future. You feel you have a duty to help your friend but know that if you are caught that you will have negative consequences also. However, based on Kant’s theory the act of cheating is wrong. Therefore, in every circumstance the act is wrong, even if the consequence may bring about good for someone involved.

Another part of Kant’s theory was what he called a categorical imperative. Whether or not we ought to do something isn’t a moral choice, but just contingent of our desires. He viewed morality through these categorical imperatives. Kant believed that the fundamental principle of our moral duties is a categorical imperative. Categorical imperatives are commands you must follow, regardless of your desires. “It is called an “imperative” because it tells us what we must do in order to act morally. In other words, it tells us what our moral duty is. It is “categorical” in the sense that it is not hypothetical (or conditional)” Our moral obligations are derived from pure reason. “Kant’s analysis of commonsense ideas begins with the thought that the only thing good without qualification is a good will.” The idea of a good will is that a person will only make decisions that he or she considers as morally right. “In Kant’s terms, a good will is a will whose decisions are wholly determined by moral demands or, as he often refers to this, by the Moral Law.” Some may feel that this moral law is a hindrance of their desires that are naturally apart of their DNA. Our human will should be motivated by the thought of duty. “Duties are rules or laws of some sort combined with some sort of felt constraint or incentive on our choices, whether from external coercion by others or from our own powers of reason.” In summary, Duty Ethics is talking about doing what’s right because it’s the right thing do and not based on the consequences of the choice decide to make. [2: Jones. “Moral Reasoning,”86.] [3: Jones. “Moral Reasoning,”87.] [4: Johnson and Cureton, 'Kant’s Moral Philosophy,'2.] [5: Johnson and Cureton, 'Kant’s Moral Philosophy,'2.] [6: Johnson and Cureton, 'Kant’s Moral Philosophy,'3.]

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Family Issues

In discussion board three we talked about our own specific approach to metaethics. I chose Duty Ethics as my metaethics approach. Just to reiterate, Duty Ethics is talking about doing what’s right because it’s the right thing do and not based on the consequences of the choice you decide to make. In discussion board four, we chose an issue to apply our metaethics approach to. The issue that I chose to apply my metaethics to was family issues. As I mentioned in that thread, dealing with family issues, sometimes can be difficult regardless of the type of approach. And especially difficult to exercise this approach to ethics. With family members, whether immediate or extended, you must be careful or you risk breaking that bond that you should have with them. Many of my issues with family members, is unfortunately over money. Due to my career choice, I am paid well, but not well enough to not have to worry about money. However, some family members believe I am rich or very well off. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Reality is that I have bills just like everyone else and a duty to pay them.

If for some reason, I am unable to provide when someone needs something, then suddenly I become the enemy. Sometimes I choose not to provide because I don’t trust that the money is being used for the right reasons. People often borrow money to use for unimportant reasons which end up putting them further in debt. Would it be morally right to loan someone money that you know they will use for a reason that isn’t morally right? Or if you know that they are unable to repay the loan, which will cause other issues with stress and depression. Sometimes when I say no, it’s because I request to know what the money is needed for, but don’t get a valid reason. Then I’m asked why I need to know. Well even the bank wants to know why, you need to borrow money and what you plan to use it for. It’s my money that I am choosing to loan and I’m not a bank that has an abundance of it. My moral dilemma is that I would feel like I’m giving drugs to a recovering drug user, if I give money that I believe will be used for a reason that will cause further issues. I have a duty to want to protect my family from unnecessary harm. Should I not want to adhere to my own moral obligations to make someone else happy?

My sister has a gambling problem among others, that she doesn’t want to admit to. Her nor my mother, will acknowledge that a problem exists. However, I see it and try to do my best to make her see that it’s not morally ok. She has a one- year old daughter and is a single mom. The child’s father isn’t in my sister’s or my niece’s life, other than to leach off them. He only calls my sister when he needs a ride somewhere or money. In the last year, I’ve seen my sister basically bottom out in her life. Due to her child’s father and her before mentioned gambling problem, she had lost her job and her vehicle. She was unable to afford to pay for a cell phone, so I added her to my plan. She agreed to pay the monthly fee, but even when she had a job, she didn’t pay me. Lately I feel more like a bank than a brother. Due to my sense of duty, I feel like it’s the right thing to do because she is not in a good position and she’s my sister. The problem with paying for her cellphone and loaning money that I knew she couldn’t afford to pay, she got too comfortable with forgoing her obligations. She seems to think it’s okay to gamble her money up, because big brother will always save the day. This has without a doubt driven her further in the hole and not the right thing to do in my opinion.

Is it morally right to deny a family member a loan, when you are financially able to? I say yes, it’s morally right when doing so would cause bigger issues. My sister has failed to realize her duty as a parent. Even though its not my responsibility to teach her and she has refused to listen to our parents, I feed the need to step in for the sake of her daughter’s future. My sister has taken up a habit in computer gambling, which is called sweepstakes where she lives. These establishments are largely illegal in that area and have been shut down numerous times for violations. What my sister was doing was going there on payday before paying her bills. After winning a great deal of money and making a profit, instead of leaving, she stays and tries to win more. The problem arises once she starts losing and then loses what she originally came with. Now she doesn’t have money to pay her bills and asks for a loan. However, the loan she asks for is not to pay her bills, but to gamble more in hopes of winning. That I have a problem with because I don’t do that myself.


In the case of my sister, I started to deny her loans and insisted that she start taking responsibility for her actions. Going back to duty ethics, I feel that saying no is just the right thing to. I am teaching her that gambling your car payment is not the right thing to do. Along with not being the right thing, it’s not fiscally responsible when you have a child or financial obligations. She had no sense of duty and had never been taught about ethics, but I chose to teach her. Duty ethics in my opinion is the best approach and the basis to determining right or wrong. My sister was looking at life as if the consequences of her actions determined if her decision was right or wrong. Her thought was if I win tonight then I can pay some bills, and not thinking that if I lose then I need to borrow money that I can’t repay. I feel like she is finally starting to see that its best to do what’s right because it’s the right to do. My sister now has a better sense of duty to make good ethical decisions. During this course I have learned a lot about ethics. Before taking this course, I didn’t realize that there were so many different approaches to ethics or doing the right thing.


  1. Jones. Moral Reasoning: An Intentional Approach to Distinguishing Right from Wrong. Liberty University Online Bookshelf. Jones, Michael S. Moral Reasoning: An Intentional Approach to Distinguishing Right from Wrong. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2017.
  2. Johnson, Robert and Cureton, Adam, 'Kant’s Moral Philosophy', The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .
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