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Lon Fuller Morality of Duty and Aspiration

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Lon Fuller the “morality of duty” and the “morality of aspiration”

Fuller emphasises the important role that law plays in affecting morality.  Fuller distinguishes between the “morality of duty” and the “morality of aspiration”, and attempts to describe a legal system where there is tacit cooperation between the lawgiver and the citizen as to what is moral or immoral, just or unjust.

 

Aspiration

The morality of aspiration is the morality of excellence, of the fullest realization of human powers. In this concept one might be condemned for shortcoming, but not for wrongdoing. The morality of aspiration has to do with our efforts to make the best use of our short lives.

 

Duty

 

While the morality of aspiration starts at the top of human achievement, the morality of duty starts at the bottom. It lays down the basic rules without which an ordered society is impossible.

 

The morality of duty is closely related to the law. The morality of duty is the morality of religion “thou shall not” and “thou shall.” It does not condemn men for not making the best use of his short life; instead, it condemns them for failing to respect the basic requirements of social living. The moral rule against killing has little to do with aspiration, but the realisation that if men kill one another off, no conceivable morality of aspiration can be realised.

 

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