Are there moral dilemmas that can not be solved just by unbounded resources, that require something other to solve them?

By solving the moral dilemma I mean either one of the following:

  1. Identify, that the bounded resources (and the problem of their distribution) are the core issue in the dilemma and provide unbounded resources to remove this core issue. E.g., abortion is the decision whether to devote the resources for 1) safe/painless delivery of baby (with the opt-quality health and cosmetic care for the mother) and everything for upbringing baby, including provision, solving all the health issues and providing education; 2) for everything other, including welfare of the family who experiences decision, society resources, including national health system resources for the elderly care, for the education, national security, for the climate change mitigation, for the creation of investment friendly business environment including job creation.
  2. Identify that the bounded resources (and the problem of their distribution) are the core issue in safeguarding the living environment in such a way to avoid situations in which the moral dilemma decision should be made. Trolley problems are such dilemmas that can be solved by smart mobility, safe engineering designs that avoid such nasty situations altogether. E.g. in technology engineering there are formal verification methods that completely scans the design space with the aim to remove and block execution flows that can lead to the dangerous state of the system. Much has been attained in the security and reliability of technologies, foods, medicines, etc., but still, more resources are needed and dilemma security vs. price is made constantly in all the businesses.

By unbounded resources I mean both the following things:

  1. Unbounded natural resources. E.g. scientists are almost completed the nuclear fusion reactors, so, this is practically unlimited sources of energy. E.g. any chemical element in principle can be synthesized in nuclear reactors. The lab grown meat is already reality. The underground plantations (with artificial lights and soils) are already reality.
  2. Elimination of the need to exploit one human being or animal in work that is necessary for the wellfare of another human being or animal. Artificial Intelligence and Artificial General Intelligence are the means to automate all the jobs, so, this need for exploitation should be eliminated.

My question is not about the possibility to attain the state of the unbounded resources. Actually - the world in practical terms already act with tacit assumption that such state can be achieved and that moral dilemmas can be solved in such a state. Transhumanism political movement is embodiment of the loud and articulated proposal of such kind.

My question is just about dilemmas - are there any that can not be solved by unbounded resources and that require something beyond unbounded resrouces?

  • 2
    God has unbounded resources, and yet we have the problem of evil because preventing evil conflicts with permitting freedom of the will. So called ontological moral dilemmas are of this sort, when two moral ends conflict and neither can be overridden. When ends conflict unlimited means do not help. Existence of such conflicts is controversial, but if they do exist nothing else is required to solve them either, because nothing can solve them.
    – Conifold
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 22:10
  • 1
    I make the case here that wisdom is our dilemma-solving faculty, & that it depends on cultivating an ongoing practice, to be able to act from the integrated centre of our concerns: philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/82325/… How to live the best life can only be approached not reached, by a given person, through them attaining their own wisdom. It is an open-ended set of dilemmas, if you frame it like that.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 22:34
  • Actually there already is general problem solving algorithm en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIXI (that can, of course, include the planning the optimal path to the superabundance with the optimal utility-based solving of the dilemmas on the path while they occur during our resource-bounded phase of existence), but this algorithm is not practical due to requirements of resources and some subtle undecidabiities that appear in the general case. So, we can reframe the wisdom (cultivated) as ongoing approximation to AIXI algorithm. AIXI author is currently at Google DeepMind.
    – TomR
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 22:47
  • Stanford encyclopedia plato.stanford.edu/entries/artificial-intelligence/index.html refers to AIXI and provides supplement for it. I just wanted to say, that all the wisdom is approximation to the general reasoning procedure that is formally known. But that is relevant only for the resource bounded problems that are framed in the utilitarian framework. While my preference is to consider it as the most general case, some argue about non-utilitarian alternatives as well and therefore can question the generalization ability of AIXI.
    – TomR
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 22:56

1 Answer 1


Human values ultimately stem from struggles related to human instincts. No doubt, many human desires require material resources, but some human desires require social resources. These are the egoistic desires like pride, honour, and entitlement.

A common example is that of child custody or decisions related to upbringing. Even in a hypothetical world where two parents can have an infinite number of children, what if customs or special desires of one parent demand certain upbringing or visitation? What if someone has a change of mind?

What happens when one person violates the privacy or honour of another, such as by disclosing secrets, spreading false rumours, or using deceptive rhetoric? Are we to assume all communication will be censored?

On a more controversial note, what about expectations of entitlement, such as those based on blood of the past? Can resources undo genocide or slavery?

Unless we find that resource abundance somehow turns off certain social instincts, can humans truly live in peace and agreement?

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .