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Arts & Letters Daily


3a. Duty - Drama Club


Drama Club coach – Ms. Smith


Duty. The Drama Club coach, Ms. Smith, humbly accepted cheers from the audience and the bouquets of flowers at the conclusion of the final night of the dramatic performance of Of Mice and Men. The announcement of this performance, the countless hours of rehearsals and the three-night performance schedule had exhausted her. There had been considerable outcry from a small vocal group of parents who objected to the use of coarse language in the script. Never-the-less, on this final night, the Superintendent praised Ms. Smith and the students for this highly professional rendition of Steinbach’s novel. He called Ms. Smith’s leadership and act of supererogation … she had fulfilled her duty.


  • What crooked thinking did the Superintendent use?
  • What straight thinking did he use?
  • How might he have expressed is appreciation for what Ms. smith had done?
  • Discuss other situations where people use this kind of thinking.

You may want to discuss other dilemmas.

Consider this view: Acts of supererogation and right action

  • Crooked thinking

Acts of supererogation illustrate that ‘right action’ necessarily include doing one’s duty.

  • Straight thinking

Acts of supererogation also illustrate that ‘right action’ does not necessarily include doing one’s duty. Acts of supererogation are acts which are done beyond the call of duty. That people consider such acts as right acts is evident from the fact that the military bestows honors, like the Victoria Cross, on people who perform heroic acts beyond the call of duty.

Moral principle value tests

An application of the moral principle value tests probably illustrates most clearly what is entailed in evaluative reasoning. They are:

It is important to emphasize that the moral-value principle tests are not designed to resolve issues (guarantee right answers!) but to assess the ‘justification’ for moral value decisions.

To view the Dilemma from the perspective of Duty, Rights, Motives, Desert and Justice, click on the following:

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