Perfection, Moral Dilemmas, and Moral Cost

Micheal Slote

in The Impossibility of Perfection

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199790821
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919185 | DOI:
Perfection, Moral Dilemmas, and Moral Cost

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Moral dilemmas involve situations where one cannot avoid wrongdoing, and moral cost, as the notion was introduced by Bernard Williams, means that one has wronged someone even while acting in a way that was morally permissible overall. One might think that familiar examples of dilemma and cost would add to our stock of examples illustrating the impossibility of perfection, but in fact they do no such thing. If one is seeking support for the Berlin thesis, moral dilemma and cost don't as such deliver it. It also turns out that the idea that one needs to experience the bad in order to appreciate the good and the idea that morality doesn't necessarily override all other values don't in themselves push us toward the idea of inevitably imperfect happiness and/or virtue.

Keywords: Isaiah Berlin; moral dilemmas; moral cost; organic unity; overridingness thesis; perfection; Bernard Williams

Chapter.  4852 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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