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Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie

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Kantian Dilemmas? Moral Conflict in Kant’s Ethical Theory

Jens Timmermann
  • Department of Moral Philosophy, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AL, United Kingdom
  • :
Published Online: 2013-03-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/agph-2013-0002

Abstract: This paper explores the possibility of moral conflict in Kant’s ethics. An analysis of the only explicit discussion of the topic in his published writings confirms that there is no room for genuine moral dilemmas. Conflict is limited to nonconclusive ‘grounds’ of obligation. They arise only in the sphere of ethical duty and, though defeasible, ought to be construed as the result of valid arguments an agent correctly judges to apply in the situation at hand. While it is difficult to determine in theory what makes some of them stronger than others, these ‘grounds’ can account for practical residue in conflict cases and for a plausible form of agent regret. The principle that ‘ought implies can’ survives intact.

Published Online: 2013-03-20

Published in Print: 2013-01-01

Citation Information: Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie. Volume 95, Issue 1, Pages 36–64, ISSN (Online) 1613-0650, ISSN (Print) 0003-9101, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/agph-2013-0002, March 2013

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