Moral reasoning without rules

Mind and Society 2 (2):105-118 (2001)
Abstract
Genuine rules cannot capture our intuitive moral judgments because, if usable, they mention only a limited number of factors as relevant to decisions. But morally relevant factors are both numerous and unpredictable in the ways they interact to change priorities among them. Particularists have pointed this out, but their account of moral judgment is also inadequate, leaving no room for genuine reasoning or argument. Reasons must be general even if not universal. Particularists can insist that our judgments be reflective, unbiased, informed, and sensitive, requiring a background of experiences that expand sympathy and empathy for others. But beyond this, our judgments must be coherent. This requirement provides a way to reason to the correct answer to a controversial issue—the answer most coherent with or body of settled judgments. Rawls' account of coherence in terms of reflective equilibrium, where we adjust particular judgments to match rules and adjust rules to match judgments, is rejected since rules have no independent force. Instead, the central requirement is that we not judge cases differently without being able to cite a morally relevant difference between them. Such differences must make a difference else-where as well, although they need not do so universally. Factors cannot be relevant in only one context because they reflect values that must recur to be maintained. The method of moral reasoning based on this requirement is specified as follows: first, the specification of competing values or interests in the problematic case; second, the location of paradigm cases in which these competing values are prioritized, making sure that these settled judgments are reflective, informed, and sensitive; third, the search for relevant differences between the settled and problematic cases or the location of alternative, more closely analogous paradigms. The paper ends with an illustration of the method applied to the issue of doctor assisted suicide
Keywords Moral reasoning  coherence  moral judgment  moral rules  particularism  reflective equilibrium
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF02512362
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 31,812
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
A Theory of Justice.John Rawls - 2009 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Philosophy and Rhetoric. Oxford University Press. pp. 133-135.
Moral Perception and Particularity.Lawrence Blum - 1991 - Ethics 101 (4):701-725.
Practical Induction.Elijah Millgram - 1997 - Harvard University Press.
Active and Passive Euthanasia.James Rachels - 1975 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press.
Morality and Conflict.Stuart Hampshire - 1983 - Harvard University Press.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Rules.Ron Mallon & Shaun Nichols - 2010 - In John Michael Doris (ed.), The Moral Psychology Handbook. Oxford University Press.
Walker on the Voluntariness of Judgment.Christian Stein - 1997 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 40 (2):175 – 186.
Moral Heuristics.Cass R. Sunstein - 2005 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (4):531-542.
Moral Emotions.Ronald De Sousa - 2001 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 4 (2):109 - 126.
Moral Emotions.Ronald de Sousa - 2001 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 4 (2):109-126.
Added to PP index
2010-08-10

Total downloads
33 ( #177,055 of 2,231,535 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #445,507 of 2,231,535 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature