14 great philosophical dilemmas (and their possible solution)

Throughout history, several thinkers have come up with interesting paradoxes that are very difficult to resolve, and which make us think about the extent to which our perception of the world can be taken as truth.

Then let’s examine a selection of great philosophical dilemmasSome with the first and last names of great philosophers and others made anonymously, in addition to seeing some of their possible solutions.

    Great philosophical dilemmas for reflection

    Here, we’re going to look at some big, sobering dilemmas.

    1. Epicurus’ problem of evil

    Epicurus of Samos (341 BC – 270 BC) was a Greek philosopher who proposed the problem of evil. It is an enigma that has become one of the great philosophical dilemmas of history..

    The curious thing about the problem of evil is the fact that Epicurus, who lived before Christ, defined the problem of believing in the Christian God very well, something truly visionary.

    The riddle of Epicurus starts from the fact that many religions of his time were monotheistic, just like Christianity, which had not yet appeared. In most of these religions, the figure of God is that of an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent being. Therefore, God can do anything, He knows everything, and He always does good.

    With all of this in mind, Epicurus wonders how evil can exist if God meets these characteristics. Given this, we are faced with a dilemma:

    • There is evil because God wants to prevent it, but he cannot do it.
    • There is evil because God wants it to exist.

    Either God is not omnipotent, or he is not omnibenevolent, or he is neither. If God can and will do away with evil, why doesn’t He do away with it? And if God cannot eliminate evil and, on top of that, does not want to do it, then why say God?

    2. Pascal’s bet

    Blaise Pascal was a polymath, known for his advances in mathematics, who was the author of one of the most famous philosophical and theological dilemmas.

    His dilemma, Pascal’s bet, it is about the existence of the monotheistic GodAs is the case with the riddle of Epicurus, it is only here that Pascal defends the belief in his existence. What he raises is that in probabilistic terms, believing in God is better than not believing in him.

    For him, even if the existence of God were a tiny probability, the mere fact of believing in him and that God existed would involve great gain, eternal glory, in return for an act involving little effort.

    Basically, he puts it this way:

    • Believe in God: if you exist, you gain eternal glory.
    • You believe in God. If it doesn’t exist, you don’t win or lose anything.
    • Don’t believe in God. If it doesn’t exist, you don’t win or lose anything.
    • Don’t believe in God. If it exists, you do not gain eternal glory.

    3. Sartre’s bad faith

    Jean-Paul Sartre was a French philosopher, representative of existentialism and humanist Marxism. He posed a dilemma known as “bad faith”, in which he stressed that human beings are absolutely free and therefore responsible for their behavior.

    Despite this, when it comes to taking responsibility, people prefer to “reify” themselves, in the sense that they prefer to say that they were objects of the will and designs of others who are not responsible for their own. their own actions.

    This is often seen in cases where human rights violations have been committed, especially with war criminals claiming that they have only obeyed orders, which their superiors pressured them to commit. atrocities.

    The paradox is that there is a point where the person chooses to act badly, then they would be really free to do whatever they want, but at the same time, he denies his freedom of choice, claiming to have been pressured.

    According to Sartre, in all circumstances, human beings are free to choose between one or the other option, but what they don’t always do is take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

    4. Pious lies

    If this question does not have the name and first names of an author, it is a philosophical debate present throughout the history of philosophy and especially of morality.

    Pious lies are seen as a form of social interaction which, despite breaking the rule of never lying under any circumstances, is a very, very Kantian idea. with them, we avoid causing damage by telling an uncomfortable truth.

    For example, if a friend of ours comes to us with a t-shirt that we find very unpleasant and asks us if we like it, we can be honest with him and say no to him or we can lie – then he feels good.

    This lie is essentially harmless, but we have broken a fundamental rule in all friendship and in society in general: We have not been sincere.

      5. Are we responsible for all the consequences?

      According to consequentialism, raised by utilitarians Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, what matters are the results of our actions.

      These acts and results can be good or bad, but they do not necessarily involve each other. In other words, doing an action that we think is right can have disastrous consequences, although it must be said that it all depends on how you look at it.

      For example, imagine that we go shopping at the supermarket. We can look at a bag of ecological and organic potatoes, grown by an NGO that fairly pays its third world workers and helps them build schools. All of this is great, at first glance, because we are apparently helping people who don’t have a lot of resources. We are in favor.

      However, if we look at it from the other side, maybe our benevolent actions have very bad consequences. For example, the potato sack comes in a mesh which is not at all resonant or organic, the transport from the country of origin to our trusted supermarket involves pollution and besides, we think a lot about the third world people but the money we spend is not spent on local commerce.

      Given this example, we can approach it in two ways. The good thing is that we are good people to help people without resources and the bad thing is that we are contributing to the greenhouse effect. How do we guide our behavior if everything we do is fundamentally wrong?

      It is difficult to predict all the results of our actions, especially if we do not have all the information.

      6. The liar’s paradox

      The liar paradox has its origin in the New Testament and in it the following statement is made: “the Cretan Epimenides say: all Cretans lie”.

      This statement is self-referential, with one part of object language and another of metalanguage.. To find out if the sentence is true, you must first divide it in half and analyze it separately.

      Whether true or false, the expression “all Cretans lie” is independent of the truth or falsity of the first part of the statement, which is metalinguistic. In the part of “Epimenid Cretans says”, we study whether Epimenides says or not that “all Cretans lie”, while in the part “all Cretans lie”, we study whether they really lie or not.

      The paradox occurs because the two levels blend together causing us a headache. Is Epimenides lying because he is Cretan? If he lies, then don’t the Cretans lie? But then shouldn’t Epimenides, who is Cretan, be lying?

      There is an example very similar to this and explained in more mundane terms:

      We have Pinocchio in front of him and he tells us that when he lies his nose grows. It’s a truth, so his nose isn’t growing. But now he goes and tells us that his nose is going to grow now, and that he is sure of it. Will his nose grow? If he grows up, we is he lying or telling us the truth? His nose really grew, but he didn’t know if he was going to push on it, did he?

      7. The overcrowded lifeboat

      In 1974, the American philosopher and environmentalist Garret Hardin proposed the following moral dilemma. He compared the Earth to a lifeboat carrying 50 people, while 100 were in the water and needed to be rescued. The problem was that only 10 more people could get on the boat.

      The people in the boat represented the most developed and wealthy countries, while those desperately swimming were the poorest countries. It is therefore a metaphor for the distribution of resources in the overcrowded world in which we live.

      Faced with the situation, questions arise such as who decides who to put 10 people on board, whether to throw overboard someone who is on board but shows signs of death, or what criteria should be used to select who is being rescued and who are not.

      The solution proposed by Hardin himself is that the 50 people who are already in the boat will not allow anyone else to board the ship, because with the 10 positions available, you have a safety margin for nothing to give up.

      As Hardin’s moral dilemma gained fame, the Northwest Association of Biomedical Research in Seattle adapted it.

      In its version, a ship sinks while lifeboats are being prepared, but there is only one and only six people can enter, with 10 passengers still alive. These ten passengers are:

      • A woman who thinks she could be six weeks pregnant.
      • A lifeguard.
      • Two young adult brides.
      • An elderly man with 15 grandchildren.
      • An elementary school teacher.
      • Two thirteen-year-old twins.
      • A seasoned nurse.
      • Captain of the ship

      Who are we saving?

      8. Tolerate any opinion

      We live in a world where free speech is encouraged, or at least we believe it is.. No one should forbid us from speaking our opinion, let alone censor them or threaten to hurt us if we don’t shut it down.

      But at the same time, we are also aware that there are opinions that hurt others. This is where the question arises as to whether it is legitimate to regulate what people say. In other words, silence others based on your opinion.

      Philosophers have long debated which way of thinking to tolerate and which should not. Freedom of expression is a delicate matter and it is difficult to establish universal and clear criteria that allow a clear line to be drawn between what is politically correct and what is not. Should we tolerate intolerance? Doesn’t tolerating intolerance make us intolerant? What do we mean by intolerance?

      9. When to Blame and When to Forgive?

      Regarding the above dilemma, sometimes there is a situation where someone does something wrong to us. That’s when, after going through various feelings, we must decide whether to forgive or continue to feel, Blame that person for what they did, even if it was unintentional or without being aware of the consequences of their actions.

      This mundane question has been a hotly debated philosophical question throughout history, especially in situations where people who have suffered greatly, such as Holocaust survivors, have forgiven those who hurt them, in this regard. case, Nazi officers.

      It’s just? Is it normal to forgive despite the harm done? Are guilt and resentment negative but necessary emotions? Is just having resentment bad?

      Of course, guilt and forgiveness are two fundamental aspects of our culture and our relations with institutions, which, unfortunately, is seen a lot today with the government’s management of the health crisis. Is it fair to blame our leaders for the way things turned out?

      10. Tram dilemma

      The tram dilemma is an already very classic example of how people think morally. The situation is well known: we have an uncontrollable tram on the road on which it is traveling. On the road, there are five people who did not realize that the vehicle was coming at high speed and hit them.

      We have a button at hand with which we can change the trajectory of the tram, but unfortunately on the other road where the tram would be traveling there is a person who did not take notice of the situation.

      What do we have to do? Did we hit the button and save five people but kill one? Don’t we push the button and let five people die?

      11. Journalists’ dilemma

      A journalist travels to the Amazon to report on its indigenous peoples. Arrived on the scene, he is kidnapped by a troop of guerrillas who lead him to his camp.

      The kidnapped have 10 people in the zulo. The guerrilla leader hands a gun to a journalist and tells him that if he kills one of these ten people, he will free the other nine. however, if it kills none, it will run at 10 p.m.. What should the journalist do?

      12. Heinz’s dilemma

      A woman suffers from cancer which, until recently, was considered terminal. Luckily for her, the cure has been found, but there is a problem: care is extremely expensive, worth ten times the value of production, and only a pharmacist has it.

      The patient’s husband goes to the pharmacist to ask for a discount, or to allow him to pay in installments, but the pharmacist refuses. Either you pay for everything or you don’t get the treatment. Would it be fair for the husband to steal the drugs to cure his wife?

      13. The dilemma of forgiveness

      An 18 year old had drug problems and needed money. With his friends, he visited the house of a widow who lived with her two children. The young man and his friends stole money from one of the children’s school, various valuables and, most importantly, family memorabilia..

      The young man was arrested and sentenced to more than two years in prison, but is not serving his sentence because he has a very good lawyer.

      Seven years later, after reinstating, marrying and forming his own family in addition to being a productive member of society working as a construction worker, the initial decision is subject to appeal and the young man is asked to return to jail.

      The lawyer asked for forgiveness, alleging the young man is fully reinstated. Should he be pardoned?

      14. The Hedgehog’s Dilemma

      The Hedgehog’s Dilemma is a parable written by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in 1851.

      A group of hedgehogs are nearby and simultaneously feel the great need for body heat on a very cold day.. To satisfy her, they seek each other and come together, so that their closeness gives them warmth, but the closer they are, the more their thorns hurt. However, walking away is not a good option because if you stop feeling pain, you feel colder.

      What is worth more? Heat and pain or cold and no pain? The idea of ​​the parable is that the closer a relationship between two people is, the more likely it is to get hurt. The ideal is to try to keep your distance, but it is very difficult to find the point so that two beings do not hurt each other or do not feel the lack of human warmth.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Alop, Jim (2013) Review and evaluation of the ESSAY “Respect for People” by Emmanuel Kant: Vol. 11, section 8.
      • Jarvis-Thomson, J. (1985) “The Cart Problem”, 94 Yale Law Journal 1395-1415.

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