Suppose two informed parties agree to terms of a contract and each party carries out their obligations.

Does ethics impose any additional implied obligations between the parties?

For example:
say I agree to bake and deliver an apple pie in exchange for a sum of money. I bake and deliver the pie and receive the payment. Moments after, the recipient learns he has a medical condition that prevents him from eating apple pie. Do I have any moral obligations beyond those of any other random party?

  • 1
    a contract supposes implied consent, i think by definition. and few people would consent to an obligation that would implicate them as above. BUT the fact of human interaction itself, and the forming of all the other contractual obligations, may implicate us in a further sense. i.e. if you reduce morality to a contract then no, but there may be other sources of obligation, such as pity e.g.
    – user6917
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 22:36

3 Answers 3


No. The contract has been fulfilled. This medical condition should have been discussed and put forth in the contract.

However, you may still be left with a moral conundrum. Will you feel bad about this situation?

The only ethical implications you may face from society would be "did you do your due diligence when coming up with the terms of the contract?" Did you, as a proprietor, establish all required facts/data that were needed to execute your end of the contract? (probing questions) As an example, if the customer ordered a cake, you would probably ask, "what kind of cake? Chocolate? What kind of frosting? (Allergies?) etc. Yet I sincerely doubt that you could be completely held responsible and at fault, because after all- you did deliver what was asked for. It (to me) seems like it should be the customer's responsibility to let you know of any medical conditions that might hinder.

From the perspective of 'big food', take for example General Mills, it is an ethical (and legal) obligation for them to properly label potential hazards. This is because there is no way for me as a customer to ask specifically and directly to GM, "Does your product contain peanuts?"

Hope this helps...

  • I think the "moral conundrum" is the issue here. It seems logically that the contract is fulfilled. But it is still intuitive that I might feel bad. Why should that be the case?
    – z5h
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 19:45
  • 1
    Ok, from a morality standpoint, it's on the individual. Principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct.Morals defines how things should work according to an individuals' ideals and principles. Your 'obligations' have been satisfied. Your internal conflict is yours to have, and yours alone. Apologies for the answer I gave earlier, I just went off of the ethical point as that is how the question is worded. SOURCE: diffen.com/difference/Ethics_vs_Morals
    – MegaMark
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 19:54

While having been involved in a previous contract doesn't seem like it should impose additional ethical obligations, it certainly doesn't release you from the obligations that naturally arise from being a participant in a situation that caused harm to another at your own action, regardless of fault or responsibility.

In an extreme example, if you were driving and somebody jumped in front of your car and got hit, most people would agree you have an ethical obligation to help the person you just hit. This doesn't mean that hitting them was your fault, or that you could have avoided the situation at all, but just being involved gives you obligations. Leaving after that would be not only morally reprehensible but illegal.

The same applies if there was a previous contract. The contract doesn't obligate you to do anything extra, but the fact that you were involved in the situation does. You aren't responsible as a contractual partner, just as a citizen, but you can't escape the additional ethical weight of having been involved in the incident instead of a mere spectator or stranger.any other random party.


Your obligations neither begin nor end with obligations under contract.

If there was no contract do you think you had no obligation to the person? Obligations under contract are a subset of all your obligations to the person.

Suppose you are an icecream seller at a beach. It dont matter that a person bought icecream from you or not, if he is drowning and you can save him its on you to save him.

If this is hard to understand then put yourself in place of that man.

  • Re-read the last line in my question again. I asked: Do I have any moral obligations beyond those of any other random party?
    – z5h
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 4:47
  • Government is a random party for you?
    – Atif
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 6:46
  • How would you enforce any contract if you keep govt. out of it? Break some bones of the person yourself? Your only legitimate option is to go to a court i.e. government. The other person follow any contract because of government. Thats why you have a contract at first place and not just a promise. A contract is enforced by govt. What govt. enforce in the matter is not limited to whats written in the contract. By signing a contract you are always subject to all laws related to contract. Those laws put obligations on you beyond whats written in contract.
    – Atif
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 7:00
  • A contract is an agreement between parties. That word does not imply government. I never mentioned nor implied a government.
    – z5h
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 19:12

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