The Price of Electricity and the True Meaning of Duty

Lucas Charbonnier

Hatched by Lucas Charbonnier

Mar 10, 2024

4 min read


The Price of Electricity and the True Meaning of Duty


In recent times, the regulated prices of electricity have seen a significant increase of 10% for individuals and small businesses. This hike in prices is closely tied to the trends in the European wholesale market. However, despite a relative decrease in the wholesale prices, these effects will not be reflected in the tariffs until 2024. To understand these dynamics better, it is crucial to delve into the factors influencing electricity prices, as well as explore the concept of duty and its various dimensions.

Electricity Prices and the Wholesale Market:

The price of electricity is determined by the costs associated with the last power plant called upon to maintain the balance between supply and demand. In France, the wholesale price of electricity has also been affected by the limited availability of nuclear power. This combination of factors has contributed to the recent surge in electricity prices. While the wholesale market plays a significant role, it is important to note that the production of electricity constantly adjusts to meet the demand. This means that prices can fluctuate based on the balance between supply and consumption.

Understanding Duty:

Duty can be defined as something to which we willingly oblige ourselves. It can be a deeply moral obligation or a social obligation, and the two are not the same. When viewed as a moral obligation, duty represents what we demand of ourselves in the name of moral values that we consider superior to all others. On the other hand, duty as a social obligation is often driven by prudence, conformity, and, at times, even hypocrisy. Immanuel Kant's concept of the "categorical imperative" emphasizes the universal and unconditional nature of duty. According to Kant, a moral being should want to help a child in danger and should recognize their ability to provide assistance. This imperative is self-sufficient and independent of any conditions. Acting out of duty, therefore, means acting based on moral principles rather than personal inclinations, fear of punishment, or hope for rewards.

Differentiating Moral and Hypothetical Imperatives:

Kant also introduces the concept of "hypothetical imperatives," which are conditional commands. True duty is performed freely, signifying that it cannot be imposed by force. True duty is what we willingly oblige ourselves to do. It is essential to distinguish between duty as a moral obligation and duty as a social obligation or social conformity. In every society, there are multiple behaviors that are ingrained in us through education and socialization. These values become our "social superego," and this is what we refer to as conformity — the act of adhering to the morals of the group. Collective morals prioritize the cohesion of the group, making the group the supreme value. However, since there are multiple societies and groups, the duties associated with each group inevitably collide. This starkly contrasts social duty with moral duty, as moral duty is universalizable and applies to all human beings, not just members of a specific group. Moral duty is not socially imposed but freely embraced. True duty promotes the absolute value of each individual and stems from the equal dignity of all human beings. Duty is what we owe to others as equals.


In conclusion, the increase in electricity prices is primarily influenced by the trends in the European wholesale market and the availability of nuclear power. Understanding the concept of duty is equally essential. Duty can manifest as a moral obligation or a social obligation, but the two should not be confused. Moral duty represents the values we uphold and demand of ourselves, while social duty often stems from conformity to group norms. True duty is performed freely, driven by moral principles rather than personal inclinations or external factors. To navigate this complex landscape, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Stay informed about the factors influencing electricity prices, such as the wholesale market and the availability of different energy sources. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions regarding your energy consumption and potentially find ways to mitigate the impact of price fluctuations.
  • 2. Reflect on your personal values and moral principles to identify your sense of duty. Strive to act out of an internal sense of obligation rather than external pressures or conformity. This will help you align your actions with your deeply held beliefs and promote a sense of personal integrity.
  • 3. Advocate for energy policies that prioritize sustainability, affordability, and accessibility. Engage with local and national initiatives that aim to address the challenges associated with electricity prices and work towards a more equitable and environmentally conscious energy system.

By understanding the interplay between electricity prices and market dynamics, as well as embracing the true meaning of duty, individuals can navigate the complexities of the energy landscape while upholding their values and contributing to the betterment of society.

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