Particularism and the point of moral principles

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 9 (2):201 - 229 (2006)
Abstract
According to radical moral particularists such as Jonathan Dancy, there are no substantive moral principles. And yet, few particularists wish to deny that something very like moral principles do indeed play a significant role in our everyday moral practice. Loathe at dismissing this as mere error on the part of everyday moral agents, particularists have proposed a number of alternative accounts of the practice. The aim of all of these accounts is to make sense of our appeal to general moral truths in both reaching and justifying our particular moral judgments without thereby violating the particularists' stricture against substantive moral principles. In this paper, I argue that the most prominent non-substantive accounts of moral generalities appealed to by radical particularists – the heuristic account and default reasons accounts – fail in this aim.
Keywords Jonathan Dancy  default reasons  heuristic principles  Margaret Olivia Little  moral epistemology  moral particularism
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