Logic and Moral Dilemmas
Among all the spheres of philosophy of education logic is of great importance. In particular it is logic that provides the rational and critical approach in ethics. So logic help us to understand the nature of moral dilemmas. It has been suggested that all moral dilemmas result from some kind of inconsistency in the moral rules. So our being faced with unsolvable moral situation merely reflected an implicit inconsistency in our existing moral code and that we forced, if we were to remain both moral and logical, by the situation to restore consistency to our code. It is allegedly realized by means of adding exception clauses to our principles currently in force or by giving priorities to some principles over others, or by some such device. From this point of view dilemmas are so to say merely apparent rather than real.
However it seems that a complete and consistent system of moral rules is impossible not as a matter of fact but also as a matter of principle. Indeed, at least some moral statements are the statements concerning values. Further, according to the Moore's "axiological thesis", whether these statements are true depends on two factors: the set of alternatives which we are evaluating, and the scale of values which we rate them. And from the theory of social choice we know that it is possible that each of some compared alternatives (in our case, ways of action) be no better than others in some respect, and also that there be no respect in which they are equally good or equally bad, and so on, and so forth ("the Condorcet's effect").
Thus we ought to accept moral dilemmas as an essential part of real-life reality.
In order to philosophize, the philosopher of education can seldom turn to just one branch of philosophy. For he needs theory of knowledge, ethics, social philosophy, philosophical anthropology, philosophy of language, philosophy of history, philosophy of science and technology, etc. And among them logic is of great significance. For example we reveal relations between different spheres of educational science (including logic itself) thanks to logic. And it is logic which provides the genuine scientific approach, namely the critical one in any sphere, in particular in ethics.
To carry out ethical actions generally and to bring up students to carrying out ethical actions in particular, it is apparently necessarily to develop ethically sound and logically well-grounded arguments. However this is namely a necessary but not a sufficient condition. For no moral code (a system of moral rules) does eliminate the possibilities of moral dilemmas.
The idea that consistency is an essential feature of rationality is accepted broadly and by the philosophers of diverse orientations. And they accept virtually the same principles and standards of logic. However there is a substantial difference between the (pure logical) consistency of a set of propositions as such and the consistency of moral rules which compose a code. The general idea of consistency is that one can prove only the correct things, not the incorrect ones. In other words this idea of consistency is not a feature of our system of reasoning in itself. This is a feature only of a concrete interpretation of the system, for what is "correct" and what is not depends finally on the way that we interpret the terms included into our reasoning. We would like, therefore, to define other concept which is as much like above-mentioned general idea of consistency as possible but it is at the same time a feature of the system of reasoning itself, independent of some interpretation.
Logicians, mathematicians and philosophers have long pondered the problems of consistency of a rational reasoning, in particular of scientific reasoning. And now in (classical, assertoric) logic, a set of propositions (in particular, axioms) is said to be consistent if there is some totality of circumstances ("a possible world") with respect to which every member of the set of propositions is true. Accordingly, a set of propositions is said to be inconsistent if there is no totality of circumstances in which these propositions are co-satisfiable i.e. in which all of them can be realized jointly.
It seems that analogously to the above-cited definition we could define a set of moral rules as consistent if there is some possible world in which these rules are all obeyable in all circumstances in that world. On such the definition, a system of moral rules is consistent if there is some totality of circumstances (a possible world) in which no conflict will take place. Then, accordingly, a set of moral rules is said to be inconsistent if there are no totalities of circumstances, no possible worlds, in which all the rules are satisfiable jointly. However the established usage so operates that a set of moral rules is considered to be inconsistent if there is some totality of circumstances with respect to which they are not cosatisfiable, i.e. in which not all of them can be realized jointly. Thus a great disparity obtains between the two cases of pure logical inconsistency of propositions and moral rule inconsistency. For with inconsistent propositions, these items are not cosatisfiable in any totality of circumstances; with inconsistent moral rules, these items are not cosatisfiable in some totality of circumstances.
It has been suggested that all moral dilemmas result from some kind of inconsistency in the moral rules. For example E.J.Lemmon [5,6] thought in that way. He distinguished such sources of our knowledge of what we are to do as duties, obligations, and moral principles. He claims that a man ought to do something, if it is his duty to do that thing. Likewise, a man ought to do it if he is under an obligation to do it. And also he ought to do it if it is right, in view of some moral principle to which he subscribes, that he should to do it. Further Lemmon notices with a wit that dilemmas in which we are morally prepared, in which we, so to say, merely have to look up the solution in our private ethical code, are rare and in any case of little practical interest. Of greater and more genuine importance are those dilemmas where some decision of moral character is required. And then he argued that our being faced with unsolvable moral situation merely reflected an implicit inconsistency in our existing moral code and that we were forced, if we were to remain both moral and logical, by the situation to restore consistency to our code. In his opinion it is realized by means of adding exception clauses to our principles currently in force or by giving priorities to some principles over others, or by some such device.
As R.C.Barcan-Marcus  commenting this position, it takes dilemmas as evidence of inconsistency of a moral code. We have to begin with a set of one or more moral principles which we will call a code. To count as a principle in such a code, a precept must be of a certain generality: it cannot be tied to specific individuals at particular times or places, except that on any occasion of use it takes the time (and the place) of that occasion as a zero co-ordinate. The underlying view that takes dilemmas as evidence of inconsistency is that a moral code is consistent if it applies without conflict to all actual - or, even more strongly - to all possible cases. Those who see a moral code as the foundation of moral reasoning and so adopt such a view of consistency argue that the puzzle of dilemmas can be resolved by elaboration of the code. It can allegedly be carried out by means of hedging principles with exception clauses, or by establishing a rank ordering of principles, or by both, or with help of a procedure of assigning weights, or by some combination of all them.
Thus, according to the foregoing approach to the problem of moral conflict, dilemmas are so to say merely apparent rather than real. For, with a complete set of moral rules and priorities or a complete set of riders laying out circumstances in which a principle does not apply, in each case one of the obligations will be vitiated. Obviously there is an improbability in such an approach , namely the supposition that we could arrive at a complete set of moral rules, priorities, or qualifications which would, for every possible case, undoubtedly mandate a single order of actions. For given the complexity of our lives and the imperfection of our knowledge, the occasions of moral dilemmas cannot always be foreseen. And our experience that "time passes" transcends all our theoretical representations even if they are constructed by means of temporal logic. And at our disposal we have got only finite resources of matter, energy and information.
Furthermore it seems that the complete and consistent system of moral rules implied above is impossible not as a matter of fact but also as a matter of principle. Our argument is following. At least some moral statements are the statements concerning values. Indeed if, when instructed concerning how ought to act, we ask for reasons, the answer may be in terms of duties, obligations, rights, ideals (of equality, of goodness, of justice), or values (moral, aesthetic, cultural, religious). And there are two interacted spheres into which philosophers have divided the study of the mentioned reasons: deontology (theory of obligations) and axiology (theory of values). The former deals with what ought to be because it is required by one's station and its duties, by the combination of obligations and agreements the past has spun. And the latter deals with what ought to be because its being so would be good, or at least better than its alternatives.
G.E.Moore  has formulated a statement which can be named "the axiological thesis" and according to which to assert that a certain line of conduct is, at a given time, absolutely right or obligatory, is obviously to assert that more good or less evil will exist in the world, if it be adopted than if anything else be done instead. For our argument it is sufficient to accept this thesis in an attenuated form as it has been offered by B. van Fraassen . This is the assertion that some, and only some, true statements of the form "It ought to be the case that A" are true because of the existence of relevant obligations. And we can then insist that, still, all of them are true because (and exactly because) it would be better if what they prescribe were the case. In other words, the axiological thesis in its attenuated form says that for some actions there is some scale of values whereby what ought to be is exactly what is better on the whole. So, at least sometimes, people ought to act above and beyond the call of duty - when that is for the best, although they cannot (and even, perhaps, ought not) be held to account, in some sense, if they do not. Thus, according to the foregoing position, whether some ought-statements are true depends on two factors: the set of alternatives which we are evaluating, and the scale of values by which we rate them.
It happened so that methodological questions concerning the above-mentioned difficulties had been investigated carefully in the sphere of the theory of social choice. There a characteristic problem is following. There is a set of alternatives that could conceivably be presented to persons which ought to choose (or to make a decision). And it is possible that, for example, three alternatives A , B and C which are compared relative to three factors are such ones that each of the alternatives is preferable than two others relative to two of the factors. Then we apparently cannot make a choice without some additional devices. The same difficulties are possible when we deal with the problem of aggregation of individual choices or preferences into collective ones. And it has been proved that establishing a rank ordering and/or assigning weights of alternatives do/does not eliminate these difficulties. It was done by the Marquis de Condorcet as far back as the end of the eighteenth century. (However, let us note, still earlier, in 1666, Leibniz, in his doctoral dissertation discussed such the questions .)
Following the example of natural sciences, the cases of above-mentioned difficulties are named "the Condorcet's effect". And it is possible to estimate it quantitatively; for example when we have got three alternatives the corresponding figure makes up approximately 6 - 9 %. Also note that K.J.Arrow  has proved, with using the means of modern symbolic logic, the general theorem according to which it is impossible to construct an ideal system of rules for social choice: always it will remain "the Condorcet's effect". It is apparently true for moral rules too. Thus we, as a matter of principle, cannot construct a consistent system of rules if we mean the sense of "consistency" according to which the rules are cosatisfiable for all totalities of circumstances as it was said about it in the beginning of the paper. In general case there always exist some "possible worlds" where axiological propositions which concerning value priorities are incompatible. And also there is no reason to suppose on considerations of consistency that there must be the principles which, on moral grounds, will provide a sufficient ordering for deciding all cases.
In connection with the aforesaid let us pay attention to an idea stated by G.N.Schlesinger  and concerning the parallel that exists between the probabilistic logic of justified beliefs in the context of empirical hypotheses and the field of deontic logic. He notes that as moral situations are immensely variegated it may occasionally happen that though the vast majority of the relevant moral situations are similar enough for a statement to be a theorem of deontic logic yet there exists a radically different type of situation (which does not present itself so readily to the investigator's mind) where the reason offered for the universal validity of the theorem fails to apply. He has offered a criterion for determing what is and what is not a valid theorem of deontic logic. Naturally, the decisions of moral dilemmas are expressible by means of namely such theorems. The criterion is founded on the opinion and behaviour of some moral authorities when they find themselves in the totality of circumstances which we discuss. This is following. Given B, A is morally obligatory if and only if the probability that an individual picked at random from the set of righteous individuals who have ever found themselves in circumstances in which B applied, acted in accordance with A and for moral reasons, is greater or equal to some prescribed magnitude.
However the Schlesinger's proposal is of course only one of possible methods of approach to resolving of moral dilemmas and this is not a denial of the existence of them. Moral dilemmas are quite real and inevitable in general and in the sphere of education in particular. And we know that moral dilemmas need not result from a conflict of rules conditioned by that rules are incompatible in the proper logical sense. And we know that setting priorities among moral rules (or among classes of "valid moral reasons") for acting will not do the needed job. It is possible of course for a man to hold inconsistent moral beliefs, in the strong sense that the statements which would correctly and adequately express his beliefs involve a logical contradiction. But it is also possible that his beliefs are consistent and there is a true factual belief which, if added to the original consistent set of beliefs, will produce a set that is inconsistent. And this case is very general. In other words dilemmas can arise and do arise from some contingent matter of fact.
So, as it is emphasized by R.C.Barcan-Marcus , N.Rescher  and other modern researchers of the problem of moral dilemmas, we arrive, once again, at a recognition of the dramatic or even tragic nature of human condition - that there will be circumstances in which we must excuse defaults of a man because he simply cannot act as he ought. There will be such cases with respect to which one can and should say that the actor indeed ought to honor incompatible obligations, but, unfortunately and regrettably, cannot do so in the existing circumstances (they were nowise of his making). And of course this fact does not eliminate the duty or obligation. It exists and remains. But the actor's failure to do as his duty demands, to honor his obligation or promise, is venial. His default must be excused: yes, it is real, but it is pardondeserving. This method of approach makes it reasonable to take a quite accurate and hard line on moral dilemmas. We can accept them as a part of real-life reality, that is acknowledge that we do really encounter real moral dilemmas in the real world. When dilemmas arise this does not obligatory mean that the moral rules were not authentic rules of obligation, for there can be circumstances in which we can default on obligations without incurring blame or moral opprobrium. Obligation, commitment, and responsibility can outrun the rich of the possible. Moral dilemmas are of course misfortunes in the sense that they admit of no morally perfect solutions - only resolutions that are (at best) morally acceptable as "lesser evils". However it does not mean that there is anything inadequate about moral rules as such. They do not tell us what to do in circumstances where it is impossible to do everything that we ought to do in accordance with them. They provide guidelines rather than procedural instructions and all the more "an algorithm of behaviour". A system of moral rules (a code of ethics) delimits the range of acceptable actions but it does not necessarily determine concrete acts. So to say, rules govern "should" but not "must". And as N.Rescher  writes the prospect of conflict in out-of-the-ordinary cases is the price that any set of rules (and moral codes included) pays for the sort of simplicity that is essential to its practical capacity to function effectively in the guidance of behaviour. And so we remain with the freedom of decision making, the danger of the risk of being mistaken, the responsibility of what all done by us and of course with the burden of guilt for the past actions of us and others.
And as Albert Schweitzer says: "We shall live in accord with the truth, if we have felt deeply conflicts. A clear conscience is a devil's invention."
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