Particularism, perception and judgement

Acta Analytica 21 (2):12-29 (2006)
According to the most detailed articulation and defence of moral particularism, it is a metaphysical doctrine about the nature of reasons. This paper addresses aspects of particularist epistemology. In rejecting the existence and efficacy of principles in moral thinking and reasoning particularists typically appeal to a theory of moral knowledge which operates with a ‘perceptual’ metaphor. This is problematic. Holism about valence can give rise to a moral epistemology that is a metaethical variety of atomistic empiricism. To avoid what could be called the Myth of the Moral Given, particularism has made use of a judgement-centred account of moral epistemology. This paper critically examines that account with reference to a proposed analogy between our moral knowledge and our knowledge of similarities.
Keywords particularism  epistemology  perception  presentism  judgement  similarities
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DOI 10.1007/s12136-006-1001-2
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John McDowell (1994). Mind and World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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