Journal of Philosophical Logic

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

Moral Conflicts between Groups of Agents

Open Access


Two groups of agents, \(\mathcal{G}_{1}\) and \({\mathcal{G}}_{2}\), face a moral conflict if \(\mathcal{G}_{1}\) has a moral obligation and \(\mathcal{G}_{2}\) has a moral obligation, such that these obligations cannot both be fulfilled. We study moral conflicts using a multi-agent deontic logic devised to represent reasoning about sentences like ‘In the interest of group \(\mathcal{F}\) of agents, group \(\mathcal{G}\) of agents ought to see to it that \(\phi\).’ We provide a formal language and a consequentialist semantics. An illustration of our semantics with an analysis of the Prisoner’s Dilemma follows. Next, necessary and sufficient conditions are given for (1) the possibility that a single group of agents faces a moral conflict, for (2) the possibility that two groups of agents face a moral conflict within a single moral code, and for (3) the possibility that two groups of agents face a moral conflict.

Key words

consequentialism moral conflicts multi-agent deontic logic stit logic 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Theoretical Philosophy, Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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