Moral Dilemmas, Gaps, and Residues

Thomas E. Hill

in Human Welfare and Moral Worth

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780199252633
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597695 | DOI:
Moral Dilemmas, Gaps, and Residues

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Offers an explanation of Kant's denial that there can be any genuine moral dilemmas and criticizes Alan Donagan's claim that we can put ourselves into a moral dilemma by our own wrongdoing. Although genuine moral dilemmas, in which one would be wrong no matter what one did, are impossible, “gaps” in moral theory may leave us with no resolution in tragic cases of moral conflict. Kantian moral theory has such gaps, but attempts to develop theories without such gaps are not necessarily desirable. Finally, the essay addresses “residues” of moral feeling and attitude after one has acted in a case of tragic conflict in which one could find no morally better option. Perhaps surprisingly, Kantians should affirm that, even though feeling guilty for the choice is inappropriate, there is an important sense in which one should feel especially bad about those one has harmed, and regret one's own role, in such cases.

Keywords: Donagan; guilt; Kantian; moral dilemmas; moral feeling; regret; residues; tragic conflict

Chapter.  18870 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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