Graduate studies at Western
Ratio 18 (1):93-103 (2005)
|Abstract||Moral particularists are united in their opposition to the codification of morality, and their work poses an important challenge to traditional ways of thinking about moral philosophy. Defenders of moral particularism have, with near unanimity, sought support from a doctrine they call “holism in the theory of reasons.” We argue that this is all a mistake. There are two ways in which holism in the theory of reasons can be understood, but neither provides any support for moral particularism. Moral particularists are united in their opposition to the codification of morality in purely descriptive terms, but their opposition takes different forms. Sometimes particularists maintain that codifying the moral landscape is impossible. In other contexts particularists argue that moral principles are in any event unnecessary. In yet other contexts particularists contend that the codification of morality is undesirable, perhaps because it would encourage people to look less carefully at the case at hand.1 These are distinct theses, although particularists often endorse all three. As Jonathan Dancy, citing John McDowell puts it, “Particularism is at its crudest the claim that we neither need nor can see the search for an ‘evaluative outlook which one can endorse as rational as the search for a set of principles.’”2 On any interpretation, particularism poses an important challenge for traditional conceptions of moral philosophy..|
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