Week 19: Obligation in the World

Competence

Competence characterizes the quality of attainment at the second level of development in our relations to the world.
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Attentiveness

Johannes Vermeer, The Geographer (1668) The¬†characteristic attitude at this level is attentiveness, as in “Pay attention.” A person who characteristically and as a matter of routine pays attention to his responsibilities has reached at least the second developmental level.
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Prudence

Prudence, or reasoned caution, is a characteristic feature of this level of development. This is the passive side of obligation. Its essential motivating factor is humility, not fear, though fear of untoward consequences is a good reason for prudence. Prudence is important at every level of development but is more
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Work

Employers want workers who function competently without being prodded to perform. A worker who appears to be struggling to make an effort is not likely to last long on the job. Beyond merely making an effort is the daily practice of work. Because it consumes so much of our time
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Reason

The trouble with quotations on the Internet is that you never know if they are genuine. [Abraham Lincoln.] Beyond mere rationality is reason. Though standard dictionaries use these terms interchangeably, I am using them somewhat arbitrarily to draw a distinction between the stage at which reason begins to be employed
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Interest

Beyond mere willingness is interest. For example, a competent worker usually takes an interest in her work. A good student usually takes an interest in his studies. This is the competence level of ethics. As we examine the emotional, intellectual and active components of obligation, we will see that the
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Obligation in the World

A functioning society depends on a citizenry that functions at a certain level of competence. Throughout the United States, we have mandatory education laws to ensure that children will attain a basic level of competence before they become adults. Families depend on members who provide for the family’s needs. Throughout
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