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Dilemma Unit

by: Valerie Segebre

Dilemma Unit PHI 2010

Valerie Segebre
GPA 3.826

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These notes cover part of what's going to be in our next exam.
Introduction to Philosophy
John Schwenkler
Study Guide
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This 3 page Study Guide was uploaded by Valerie Segebre on Wednesday March 16, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to PHI 2010 at Florida State University taught by John Schwenkler in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 274 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Philosophy in PHIL-Philosophy at Florida State University.

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Date Created: 03/16/16
Dilemma Study Guide  A dilemma is one in which a person is in a situation that he or she has to choose whether to do or not to do something.  Commonplace dilemma: There is a problem with a person’s desires  Moral difficulty: There is a problem between those desire’s and what the person ultimately ought to do  Moral uncertainty: The person cannot decide what the correct thing for him/her to do is  According to Lemmon, a moral dilemma is one in which whether a person can’t escape choosing incorrectly because either choice can be perceived as wrong (e.g. either attend uncle’s funeral or attend best friend’s wedding - either way you feel like you are letting someone down).  A person has to do something but later on he still has not done that thing. That person would not say that he had done it because this would mean that he completed the task, but rather he would say he ought to or should have done it.  It is a contradiction to say that one must do something and that one must also not do that thing, but it is possible to say that one must neither do something nor do something. For example, it is false to say that both one must go to the doctor’s once a year and one must not go to the doctor’s once a year but you can never say that to things must be true. o What is meant by this is that both musts can be false as the example previously stated but they cannot both be true, so one cannot say that you must go to the doctor’s once a year and also that you must not go to the doctor’s once a year.  The negation of can is cannot but Lemon says that the negation of must is not must not but rather “I do not have to say the truth”.  Similarly, the negation for ought is not ought not because you can say that you ought to go to bed early but you can also say that you not ought to go to bed early.  With must, however, it is referred more as will, so must not would be will not and will and will not are contradictory to each other as opposed to ought or ought not because both oughts could be true as mentioned in the example of going or not going to bed early but saying I must (will) go to bed early is contradictory to also saying I must not (will not) go to bed early.  Platonic example of dilemma: o A man was lent a gun by a friend and he promised to give it back in a week. By the end of the week, the friend tells the man that when he gives him the gun back he will shoot is unfaithful wife. The dilemma here is one of obligation vs duty. It is the man’s obligation to return the lent gun but it is his moral duty not to do so because his friend would then commit the sin of murder.  Foote makes a distinction between two oughts/shoulds: o Prima facie – at first glance – evidence o Everything considered – advice  Back to the gun example from Lemmon, Foote thinks that o The friend ought not to return the gun after all things are considered (ought overrides other deliberations, in this case being that at first glance, if the friend returned the gun, the friend would be indirectly responsible for the gun owner’s wife’s death)  Foote disagrees with the idea that you have to apologize to a person that you in some way troubled even if with good reason because sometimes not fulfilling an obligation doesn’t trouble any person at all. o You promised to meet up a friend at a certain place but on your way there a car accident happens near you and you stop to help the victim while the paramedics get there. Your friend also breaks the promise to meet you there by helping somebody else from where she’s at but it turns out it was a good thing neither of you met up at the destined place because a bomb explodes there.  Foote further argues that in the case where you fail your promise to your friend, such as attending her birthday party because on your way to her house you had to stop to help an accident victim, that since what you did was justified (helping the person out instead of leaving them to die on the sidewalk and casually continuing on with your day to your friend’s birthday party) there is no need to apologize, only to explain the situation.  You might feel sad that you didn’t attend but this is different to William’s idea of moral regret, because you don’t regret helping the dyeing person get life-saving medical help (feeling sad is not the same as believing you did something wrong).  Moral regret is then the “remainder” in very serious cases were the right choice isn’t always so clear. Since we internally debate the choices, we falter and then don’t stop thinking about the regrets we will feel in whatever choice we pick.  In “resolvable” dilemmas, once choice is evidently better than the other. o A good choice would be made by a virtuous person and a virtuous person is an example to follow of a good person.  In “tragic” cases, the available choices are all bad. o Once can avoid doing bad by not doing it at all or by choosing the best remaining, least-bad option.  This can fail though because it is not always possible to avoid doing something, even if the options are all bad.  Foote disagrees with Nussbaum on the topic of whether or not there are actually cases of unavoidable wrongdoings.  Foote argues though that there are no real moral dilemmas because in a moral context: o Picking an incorrect choice concerns actions that are against a person’s overall goodness (serious connotation). o To accept the “incorrect if you do this or incorrect if you don’t do that” approach as plausible and maintain the idea that either choice is bad, one must think that good choices can be overshadowed by tragic situations. o However, how can one determine that in a situation a person can be wrong either way with these changes in interpretation?  Nussbaum’s thesis on the “tragic question” : o It is important to confront this question when faced with a dilemma because by thinking about why our dilemma is a dilemma, we think of laws that can change society so that such choices do not plague people or not as frequently.  Suppose there is a robot sent to earth whose purpose is to learn about earth’s weaknesses but ends up making friends with humans. Once day, his fellow robots come in a huge aircraft and tell the robot to give them the necessary information so that they can defeat the humans in war and take over the planet since their own planet is losing a war to an evil alien race. The robot here has a major dilemma. o The “spheres of value” that are in tension in this situation are loyalty to his own species/planet and moral duty of not betraying his friends and taking over earth.  If he chooses to fight with humans then he is a traitor to his people and their planet will be no more but if he chooses to give the information and fight against the people of earth, he is betraying his friends and saving his people from not having a planet but though the death of humans.


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