Sacrifices: The Paradigmatic, the Demanding, and the Heroic
The concept of sacrifice harbors challenging puzzles and occupies an integral but neglected place in discussions of the problem of overly demanding moral duties. I argue that sacrificing is a distinctive type of act characterized by a number of conditions, the necessary core of which include the forfeiture of some good and an associated experience of hardship. One puzzle arises because sacrificing seems to entail coming out on the losing end of a particular kind of transaction, yet many paradigmatic sacrifices seem clearly to be best, all things considered, for an agent. A second puzzle arises in the tension between the fact that many sacrifices come in response to the claims of others, yet it is plausibly the case that in order to be a sacrifice an act must be an instance of freely giving rather than giving what is owed. In developing a novel analysis of sacrifice, I fill out the remaining conditions and address both of these puzzles. I then deploy the resulting account to offer an improved articulation of the demandingness problem, one that has important implications for its scope and importance. Understanding the demandingness problem to concern the ways in which moral duties entail sacrifices rather than the ways in which compliance with moral duties might be difficult or costly for agents enables us to resist two prominent arguments that would deprive demandingness objections of any force. Finally, I examine heroic sacrifices, often claimed by heroic agents to have been in some sense required. I argue against deflationary and moralizing responses to this claim and forward an alternative account that sheds new light on the vexing question of how we might be bound to do morally good things without being morally bound to do what would be excessive to demand.
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A Qualitative Report of Dual Palliative Care/ethics Consultations: Intersecting Dilemmas and Paradigmatic Cases Childers, Julie W.; Demme, Richard; Greenlaw, Jane; King, Deborah A.; Quill, Timothy (2008-09)