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Arts & Letters Daily


6a. Duty - English Teacher


English Teacher – Mrs. Wall


Duty. “Do I have any obligations beyond my responsibilities to teach my English classes?” pondered Mrs. Wall, a second year teacher at Jason Secondary School. “I’m quite clear about my responsibilities; they are outlined in the contract I signed with my school district. But, I’m not so clear about my obligations. Can my Principal obligate me to assume tasks not covered by my contract? I get the feeling he can. It’s a somewhat delicate question; that’s why I am reluctant to ask her about it. Whom can I ask?”


  • What crooked thinking did this Mrs. Wall try to clarify in her mind?
  • What straight thinking did she use?
  • Discuss other situations where people use this kind of thinking.

You may want to discuss other dilemmas.

Consider this view: A responsibility is a duty which …

  • Crooked thinking

A responsibility is a duty which a person has by virtue of choice.

  • Straight thinking

A responsibility is a duty which a person has in virtue of his particular position. A parent has a responsibility to provide his child with proper nutrition in virtue of the fact that he is the child’s father. A teacher has a responsibility to teach his students in virtue of the fact that he is their teacher.

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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