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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.
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.
That is to ask, is there any limitation of that principle in our moral practice, especially when we consider filial morality in dealing with the relationship between adult children and their aged parents?
Let me try to answer the question by looking at the following example.
I conclude that due to the naturalistic character of the family, the nature of our familial obligations (such as parental caring for young children and adult children's respectful caring for aged parents) cannot be consensual, contractarian and voluntarist, but instead existential, communal and historical.
Some moral philosophers in the West hold that adult children do not have any more moral obligation to support their elderly parents than does any other person in the society, no matter how much sacrifice their parents made for them in the past or what kinds of misery their parents are presently suffering.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.Because we cannot always assume a friendship relation exists between a parent and his/her children, filial obligation is not a genuine moral obligation at all.In what follows I shall argue against the Daniels/English thesis in light of the traditional Eastern Confucian view of the nature of filial obligation.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.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?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.