A Reply to McDonald: A Defense in Favor of Requirement Conflicts

Journal of Social Philosophy 28 (1):151-157 (1997)
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In “The Presumption in Favor of Requirement Conflicts” Julie McDonald has offered some serious and challenging criticisms of the recent literature centered around the moral dilemmas debate. If McDonald is correct, the philosophers who have contributed to this debate share some questionable presuppositions about the role and significance of an adequate moral theory. It is beyond dispute that the moral dilemmas debate has elevated the importance of requirement conflicts above other types of conflicts. McDonald argues that this is a needlessly restrictive way to approach the issue. She maintains that the potential for unavoidable moral residue in the form of guilt, as well as the chance of moral unresolvability, are the two central concerns which motivate the issue. These concerns then figure into her diagnosis of the implicit background assumptions that explain the rationality of the debate. In what follows I shall consider whether or not the participants to this debate are forced to accept these assumptions.



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