Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 13, Issue 1, Fall 2008

Jim Vernon
Pages 67-80

The Moral Necessity of Moral Conflict in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

While not an explicit claim of Hegel’s, this paper aims to use his analysis of ‘Conscience’ in the Phenomenology of Spirit to demonstrate that the conflict between different moral judgments is morally necessary. That is, rather than being the unfortunate result of ‘hard’ cases, I argue that moral conflict is a necessary condition for the possibility of duty. Grasping the moral ground of moral conflict, I contend, allows us to understand why such conflicts arise, how and why they become entrenched into ‘moral issues’ and what our duties are in such cases. Thus, I aim to articulate both the moral necessity and dutiful resolution of seemingly intractable moral conflicts.