Generalism without foundations

Acta Analytica 21 (2):71-86 (2006)
This paper is a defence of a holistic version of the generalist view of moral reasoning based on prima facie principles. In Section 1 I summarise Dancy’s arguments for particularism. Then I argue that particularism goes against strong intuitions regarding reasoning in general (Section 2), fails to account for the asymmetry of reasons (Section 3) and to make sense of compunction and moral imbecility (Section 4). I conclude (Section 5) that a holistic generalism is the right view of moral reasoning. Then I discuss Dancy’s objections to it. I argue that Dancy’s appeal to default reasons is philosophically equivalent to a holistic version of generalism, and hence incompatible with particularism (Section 6) and that his resistance to accept holistic generalism is the result of a foundationalist view of reasoning (Section 7). As an alternative to foundationalism I defend an Aristotelian dialectical view of moral reasoning.
Keywords Aristotle  Dancy  foundationalism  holism  moral reasoning  particularism   prima facie principles
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