Advertisement

Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 8, pp 2087–2101 | Cite as

Moral pickles, moral dilemmas, and the obligation preface paradox

  • Daniel ImmermanEmail author
Article
  • 206 Downloads

Abstract

This paper introduces and defends a new position regarding the question of whether it is possible to have conflicting moral obligations. In doing so, it focuses on what I call a moral pickle. By “moral pickle” I mean a set of actions such that you ought to perform each and cannot perform all. Typically, when people discuss conflicting moral obligations, they focus on the notion of a moral dilemma, which is a type of moral pickle involving two conflicting actions. In other words, a moral dilemma is a pair of actions such that you ought to perform each and cannot perform both. As of yet, there is no debate about the possibility of moral pickles over and above the possibility of moral dilemmas. But as I show, there is good reason to think that moral pickles are possible and moral dilemmas are not.

Keywords

Moral pickle Moral dilemma Obligation Belief Preface paradox Obligation preface paradox 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thanks for helpful comments to Earl Conee, Ryan Hammond, Ting Lau, Caleb Perl, Will Smith, Fritz Warfield, several anonymous referees, and an audience at the 2016 Pacific APA.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Author has no financial interest or benefit arising from the direct applications of their research.

References

  1. Brennan, G., & Southwood, N. (2007). Feasibility in action and attitude. Hommage à Wlodek: Philosophical Papers Dedicated to Wlodek Rabinowicz.Google Scholar
  2. Brink, D. (1994). Moral conflict and its structure. The Philosophical Review, 103, 215–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Christensen, D. (2004). Putting logic in its place; Formal constraints on rational belief. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Conee, E. (1982). Against moral dilemmas. The Philosophical Review, 91(1), 87–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Estlund, D. (2011). Human nature and the limits (if any) of political philosophy. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 39, 207–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Foley, R. (2009). Beliefs, degrees of belief, and the lockean thesis. In F. Huber & C. Schmidt-Petri (Eds.), Degrees of belief. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  7. Goldstein, S. (2016). A preface paradox for intention. Philosophers’ Imprint, 16(14), 1–20.Google Scholar
  8. Haan, J. D. (2001). The definition of moral dilemmas: A logical problem. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 4(3), 267–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Harman, G. (1986). Change in view. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Horty, J. F. (2012). Reasons as defaults. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lawford-Smith, H. (2013). Understanding political feasibility. Journal of Political Philosophy, 21, 243–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Makinson, D. C. (1965). The paradox of the preface. Analysis, 25, 205–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Marcus, R. B. (1980). Moral dilemmas and consistency. The Journal of Philosophy, 77(3), 121–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. McConnell, T. (2014). Moral dilemmas. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.Google Scholar
  15. Rajczi, A. (2002). When can one requirement override another? Philosophical Studies, 108(3), 309–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Shpall, S. (2016). The calendar paradox. Philosophical Studies, 173(3), 801–825.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (1987). Moral dilemmas and ‘ought and ought not’. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 17(1), 127–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sorensen, R. (2011). Epistemic paradoxes. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.Google Scholar
  19. Southwood, N. (2015). Democracy as a modally demanding value. Noûs, 49, 504–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Southwood, N. (2016). Does “ought” imply “feasible”? Philosophy and Public Affairs, 44(1), 7–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Southwood, N., & Wiens, D. (2016). “Actual” does not imply ”feasible”. Philosophical Studies, 173(11), 3037–3060.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Vihvelin, K. (2004). Free will demystified: A dispositional account. Philosophical Topics, 32, 427–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Williams, B. (1965). Ethical consistency. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, 39, 103–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Worsnip, A. (2016). Belief, credence, and the preface paradox. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 94(3), 549–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CycorpAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations