Introduction to Ethics

Barbara Herman argument

Barbara claims that people must be concerned about the moral worth of their actions. She believes that for an act to be morally worthy, then the agents have to focus on morality. In regards to this, action has a moral value not because it is known to be right morally but because the person was interested in his or her morality. Herman has a view that an act has a morally viable only if it is required by duty and has as its main motive, the motive of duty. Thus, if we fail to major on the moral aspect of the act that we do, then the moral worthiness of the decision is far from our interference.

Herman, in responding to the aspect of “groundwork” goes back before the invocation of this illustration by Kant to look at the broader context of the discussion in the first part of the work. Groundwork is concerned with the conception of the goodwill. Herman says that moral worth is part of an account of what it is that is involved in the goodwill. Currently, the key aspect to goodwill based on its link to duty concerns the motive involved in carrying out a dutiful act. The main thing, however, is that the inspiration here considered is one where acting dutifully means acting for the sake of duty instead of something else.


While responding to the aspect of dutiful, Herman claims that serving friends is morally worthy if duty is the only motivation the person is acting on. This reasoning tends to oppose the concept of friendship where most people normally consider friendship true if they stick with friends regardless of some inconveniences for us. Her picture becomes complicated when she speaks of duty as being a motive in the main sense in dutiful actions, whereas it is limiting the existence of other motives such as permissible actions. Thus, the role of duty is not always expressive in the primary sense because it can also act as a means of filtering out immoral actions.

In addition, Herman’s argument is circular. She assumes that people must take responsibility for their actions for it to be considered morally right, or else we will be unable to take credit for them. I believe that the right actions are the ones that duty commands. Besides, only moral right actions can be morally worthy. Thus, we can be sure of the right actions when we consider our duty.

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