March 16, 2010
ABSTRACT The concept of will has been in the focus of philosophical reflection on moral matters since the beginning of philosophy. Certainly the views on how the will should be understood vary a lot, but the centrality of the concept has hardly been questioned. However, and as I try to show, the concept of will cannot give an account of moral conflicts. Conflicts of willing, of not knowing what one wills, are not identical with moral conflicts. The former do not by themselves involve any moral perspective at all. It is the concept of conscience which introduces a moral involvement into conflicts. In a moral conflict my will is directed towards some evil action while my conscience, by presenting my neighbour as someone to love, makes me alert to this evil will. (What conscience presents to me is not an expression of my will. Whatever I will do, it is not true to say that I on the one hand want to do a terrible thing and on the other hand do not want to do it, as if these options were two readymade, intellectual positions which stand in a symmetrical relation to my will.) Conscience is what makes me perceive the evil of my acting in order that there can be any choice to be made.