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Human Welfare and Moral WorthKantian Perspectives$
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Thomas E. Hill, Jr.

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199252633

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199252637.001.0001

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Moral Dilemmas, Gaps, and Residues

Moral Dilemmas, Gaps, and Residues

(p.362) 12 Moral Dilemmas, Gaps, and Residues
Human Welfare and Moral Worth

Thomas E. Hill (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Offers an explanation of Kant's denial that there can be any genuine moral dilemmas and criticizes Alan Donagan's claim that we can put ourselves into a moral dilemma by our own wrongdoing. Although genuine moral dilemmas, in which one would be wrong no matter what one did, are impossible, “gaps” in moral theory may leave us with no resolution in tragic cases of moral conflict. Kantian moral theory has such gaps, but attempts to develop theories without such gaps are not necessarily desirable. Finally, the essay addresses “residues” of moral feeling and attitude after one has acted in a case of tragic conflict in which one could find no morally better option. Perhaps surprisingly, Kantians should affirm that, even though feeling guilty for the choice is inappropriate, there is an important sense in which one should feel especially bad about those one has harmed, and regret one's own role, in such cases.

Keywords:   Donagan, guilt, Kantian, moral dilemmas, moral feeling, regret, residues, tragic conflict

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