Wronging by Requesting

In Mark C. Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 11. Oxford: (forthcoming)
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Upon doing something generous for someone with whom you are close, some kind of reciprocity may be appropriate. But it often seems wrong to actually request reciprocity. This chapter explores the wrongness in making these requests, and why they can nevertheless appear appropriate. After considering several explanations for the wrongness at issue (involving, e.g. distinguishing oughts from obligation, the suberogatory, imperfect duties, and gift-giving norms), a novel proposal is advanced. The requests are disrespectful; they express that their agent insufficiently trusts the hearer to recognize their own reasons to reciprocate, and the close relationship between them morally requires this kind of trust. This proposal is articulated and situated in the recent discussion of the normativity of requests. The chapter concludes by explaining how these requests may appear appropriate. Agents in these relationships often have standing to make requests, though the standing is lacking in these particular cases.

Author Profiles

N. G. Laskowski
University of Maryland, College Park
Kenneth Silver
Trinity College, Dublin


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