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Public Affairs

The right action still has a cost - and you're still on the hook


Remember Sophie's Choice?  William Styron's 1979 novel, and the movie that followed three years later horrified readers with the story of a woman forced to choose which of her children would die in an Auschwitz gas chamber.

The good news is that we are rarely called to make decisions that horrific in our everyday lives.

The bad news is that we are confronted regularly with moral dilemmas: situations where two courses of action conflict and both entail a significant cost.

Create a lockdown to keep people safe from COVID-19?  Yes, but what about the people out of work and the small businesses that can't survive?

Protest systemic racism?  Yes, but what about the buildings and businesses that are damaged or destroyed?

Once again: the good news is that there is a way to come to grips with these kinds of dilemmas.

The bad news is: we're still on the hook to try to make things better.

Laura recommended a book called When Doing the Right Thing Is Impossible (Philosophy in Action) by Lisa Tessman.

You can also find out more about the Philosophy in Action series here.


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