Acta Analytica

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 207-222

First online:

Moral Dilemmas and Vagueness

  • Matjaž PotrčAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana
  • , Vojko StrahovnikAffiliated withIPAK institute and Faculty for Government and European StudiesUlica Hermana Potočnika 21 Email author 

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In this paper we point out some interesting structural similarities between vagueness and moral dilemmas as well as between some of the proposed solutions to both problems. Moral dilemma involves a situation with opposed obligations that cannot all be satisfied. Transvaluationism as an approach to vagueness makes three claims concerning the nature of vagueness: (1) it involves incompatibility between mutually unsatisfiable requirements, (2) the underlying requirements retain their normative power even when they happen to be overruled, and (3) this incompatibility turns out to be rather benign in practice. Given that transvaluationism is inspired by moral dilemmas, these claims are assessed in respect to them. Transvaluationism provides a smooth account of the mentioned claims concerning vagueness. Following a brief discussion of Sorensen’s views on moral dilemmas and conflict vagueness, we offer a model of moral pluralism accommodating structurally similar claims about the nature of moral conflict and moral dilemmas.


Moral dilemma Vagueness Transvaluationism Duties and principles Pluralism