Alex Pruss on Real Moral Dilemmas

People frequently talk about moral dilemmas, but what they usually are referring to are not genuine dilemmas but hard choices, ones in which, say, the right choice is painful or bothersome. That’s not quite right.

Some people—notably, St. Thomas—think that you can have real dilemmas, ones where you are obligated to do each of two incompatible actions, but only when you’ve done something wrong. For instance, one might make incompatible promises to two different people, and then have a real dilemma, but of course it’s wrong to make such incompatible promises.