Moral Dilemmas and Prescriptivism

American Philosophical Quarterly 26 (3):187 - 197 (1989)
Authors
Christopher Gowans
Fordham University
Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to establish that, For an important class of moral judgments, The claim that there are moral dilemmas is false. The judgments are the judgments an agent committed to morality makes as the conclusion of deliberation about what, All things considered, He or she morally ought to do in some situation. The argument is that these judgments are prescriptive, In the sense of implying an intention to act, And that it is implausible to think there are dilemmas involving such prescriptive judgments. Some of the import of this argument is shown in the fact that it supports a common objection to moral dilemmas, That they are incompatible with the principles of "agglomeration" and "'ought' implies can'." for these principles are plausible from a prescriptivist standpoint. At the end of the paper, It is suggested that there is another class of moral judgments, Nonprescriptive in their use, Concerning which there remains a substantial issue about moral dilemmas.
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