South African Journal of Philosophy

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A Paraconsistent Solution to the Problem of Moral Dilemmas

Helen Bohse


Moral dilemmas – situations in which an agent has a moral requirement to do each of two acts but cannot do both – seem to suggest some kind of inconsistency. I argue that the inconsistency felt intuitively is actually a logical inconsistency, and then go on to show that we can neither deny the existence of moral dilemmas nor give up the deontic principles involved in the deduction of a contradiction, as both our moral judgements and the deontic principles depend on intuitions that form the basis of our morality. Rather than rejecting our intuitions and thus undermining morality, I suggest regarding moral dilemmas as situations in which a contradiction is not only false, but at the same time true. Finally, the view that moral dilemmas are an example of true contradictions – so-called dialetheias – leads to the application of paraconsistent logic to moral judgements.

S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.24(2) 2005: 77-86
AJOL African Journals Online