Moral Conflicts: What They Are and What They Show

Michael Stocker

in Plural and Conflicting Values

Published in print October 1992 | ISBN: 9780198240556
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598463 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

 Moral Conflicts: What They Are and What They Show

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Philosophers commonly argue that conflicts of values are deeply problematic for ethical theories in so far as they force the theories into impracticality, incompleteness, or irrealism. To be complete, a theory must tell us in every case what must be done. To be practical, it must never tell us to do what is impossible. As conflict seems to involve just these features, some philosophers argue from the fact that avoiding conflict (and correlatively regret) is impossible to the conclusion that ethical theories must either be silent in some cases or that it requires us to do both of the jointly impossible acts. Others seek to explain the conflict away as merely apparent. Against these views, it is argued that mere incompossibility does not make for a conflict. All choice involves incompossibility, but not all choice involves conflict. Conflict must be understood in terms of what is conflicting. Understanding this requires seeing that many act evaluations are not action‐guiding.

Keywords: act‐evaluation; action‐guiding; conflicting; duty; moral conflict; value

Chapter.  17690 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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