In daily speech duty is often conceptualized as a requirement that a person has to fulfil. It is typical of this everyday conception that duty is supposed to overrule other considerations a person might have concerning the choice of his or her actions, considerations that may, for example, be based on his or her desires or particular inclinations such as self-interest. Failing to acknowledge or live up to a duty means that a person's conduct is morally wrong.

It is, however, characteristic of thinking on duty in Western culture that “right action” is not necessarily equivalent to conduct that fulfills a duty. The concept of “right action” has an ambivalent or double meaning. If we say that a person acted “right,” we can indeed mean to ...

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