When Fred, a strong man and a good swimmer, went by a swimming pool on his way home, he found a three year old child Sheila was drowning in a swimming pool with another young child John crying nearby.
Does Fred have any moral obligation to jump into the pool to save Sheila?
Therefore, there is a "basic asymmetry between parental and the filial obligations." I argue against the Daniels/English thesis by employing the traditional Confucian view of the nature of filial obligation.
On the basis of a distinction between 'moral duty' and 'moral responsibility' and the Confucian concept of justice, I argue that the filial obligation of adult children to care respectfully for their aged parents is not necessarily self-imposed.
Therefore, as a free, rational, and autonomous moral agent, I am morally responsible only for the consequences of those actions which I have committed voluntarily, without any coercion and deceit.
Otherwise I will not see myself behaving as a free and autonomous being.To me, what makes Fred morally obligated in this case is the existential or factical "being" of Fred, Sheila, and John rather than Fred's intentional consent that is crucial in Fred's moral obligation to try to save Sheila.Similar examples in our contemporary social and moral life can also be found in the cases such as the moral obligation of the present generation of human beings to protect the ecological environment and to preserve some of the natural resources for future generations, a citizen's obligation to defend her home country, a patient's obligation not to have physical contact with healthy persons if she knows that she has an infectious disease, etc.I shall make a distinction between "moral duty" and "moral responsibility" and argue that adult children's filial obligation of taking care of and being respectful to their aged parents should not be understood as a moral responsibility but as a moral duty, which is, by its nature, not necessarily self-imposed.That is to say, it is not consensual, contractarian, and voluntarist but existential, communal, and historical. Consent and Moral Obligation We may find a basic thesis that underline the Daniels/English rejection of adult children's moral obligation of taking respectful care for their aged parents.In her famous essay, "What Do Grown Children Owe Their Parents," Jane English also claims that a favor done without it being requested or a voluntary sacrifice of one for another can only create "a friendly gesture" (Sommers & Sommers, 1993, pp. It incurs neither an "owing" nor a moral obligation to reciprocate.Accordingly, "a filial obligation would only arise," says English, "from whatever love (s)he [the adult child] may still feel for them [her parents]." The moral obligation stops whenever the friendship relation ends.It is rather determined mainly by what kind of existential situation a moral agent is in and what kind of social role she plays.For example, a normal and healthy person is obligated to yield to a handicapped person because the latter is handicapped.This is so, they claim, because children do not ask to be brought into this world or to be adopted.Thus, the traditional filial obligation of supporting and taking care of the aged is left as either the private responsibility of the elderly themselves or as a societal burden on the public.