M2 (Pottle)

While reading chapter two I started to think I was not really identifying with any of the moral theories, until I reached the section about Prima Facie Obligations. Prima Facie really spoke to me in a way where many of the other theories like Kant and Egoism can be very black and white, Prima Facie seems more like a grey area. I often times can find myself making promises to friends or individuals I have moral obligations, with the fullest intent of fulfilling those promises and then a conflict arises right before I attempt to fulfill those promises. This leaves me to choose which obligation will likely product the greatest good or happiness in the long run.  

For example, this summer I have recently been helping a friend update and renovate her home so it can be ready to put on the market and be sold. This job is working on a time limit because she already has a different home purchased where she is moving to and the house needs to get up on the market as soon as possible. This process started out just helping her get rid of junk and then turned into, painting the whole house, reconstructing the deck, cleaning the house, and more painting. While at first I had ample amount of time to help her and would often spend hours a day helping her, I have now been at her house for about six hours a day, 4-5 days a week, for the past 2 months.  

I do not have a problem helping her because helping others gives me a great sense of joy, keeps me busy, and increases my quality of life. However, there have been times when I need to choose between helping with her house or keeping a previous promise of coaching young athletes 4 nights a week. I am obligated in help my friend prepare for her move, but I am also obligated to the other coach who I agreed to help, and to the girls on the team who need more than one coach in order to progress, develop, and be as competitive as possible in out of state tournaments.  

When reading about Prima Facie Obligations, what instantly came to my mind was “spreading yourself too thin’, or making too many promises with every intention to keep them but then soon finding out there are not enough hours in the day. I cannot speak for all humans who identify with Prima Facie, but from personal experience this seems like a theory for the humans who want to help as many people as possible, as much as possible, with little regard to the stress it has on themselves. In the end, Prima Facie humans need to keep in mind if they “spread themselves too thin’ they cannot help all the people they wish and need to make the hard, and sometimes harsh, decisions in order to keep doing what they believe will benefit society the most.  

1 Comment for “M2 (Pottle)”



I completely agree with you. Being a coach as well, it can get really difficult getting everything done that you need to get knocked out in a day. At my busiest, I was coaching 10+ hours a week, working full time, and going to school. It’s hard to find anytime in there for yourself. This last semester I had to weigh coaching the kids vs taking more credits and finishing school quicker because of conflicting schedules. Ultimately, I decided against coaching last season because I’d promised myself early on that school was my first priority. Selfless people are definitely accustomed to spreading themselves too thin, we attempt to help everyone we can and find it difficult to justify prioritizing promises to ourselves over those that we have for others.