Two Types of Moral Dilemma
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Matti Häyry & Tuija Takala (eds.), The Future of Value Inquiry. Rodopi (2001)
This chapter identifies two types of moral dilemma. The first type is described as ethical clash: whether affirmative action is just or unjust, for example, or whether withholding information from an inquisitive relative is honest or dishonest. In these cases the dilemma takes the form of conflict between an ethical predicate and its complement. The second type of moral dilemma is ethical overlap. Instead of a clash between a single predicate and its complement, here two or more predicates apply. Dilemmas associated with white lies, for example, often depart from the recognition that such acts are both dishonest and avoid inflicting pain. Similarly, social dilemmas over progressive taxation may arise despite agreement that progressive systems both decrease liberty and increase equality. Which predicate should take precedence? Strategies for dealing with both types of dilemma are proposed.
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