Particularism, Analogy, and Moral Cognition

Minds and Machines 20 (3):385-422 (2010)
‘Particularism’ and ‘generalism’ refer to families of positions in the philosophy of moral reasoning, with the former playing down the importance of principles, rules or standards, and the latter stressing their importance. Part of the debate has taken an empirical turn, and this turn has implications for AI research and the philosophy of cognitive modeling. In this paper, Jonathan Dancy’s approach to particularism (arguably one of the best known and most radical approaches) is questioned both on logical and empirical grounds. Doubts are raised over whether Dancy’s brand of particularism can adequately explain the graded nature of similarity assessments in analogical arguments. Also, simple recurrent neural network models of moral case classification are presented and discussed. This is done to raise concerns about Dancy’s suggestion that neural networks can help us to understand how we could classify situations in a way that is compatible with his particularism. Throughout, the idea of a surveyable standard—one with restricted length and complexity—plays a key role. Analogical arguments are taken to involve multidimensional similarity assessments, and surveyable contributory standards are taken to be attempts to articulate the dimensions of similarity that may exist between cases. This work will be of relevance both to those who have interests in computationally modeling human moral cognition and to those who are interested in how such models may or may not improve our philosophical understanding of such cognition
Keywords Analogy  Jonathan Dancy  Machine ethics  Moral cognition  Neural networks  Particularism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11023-010-9200-4
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,411
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Jeffrey L. Elman (1990). Finding Structure in Time. Cognitive Science 14 (2):179-211.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

39 ( #123,694 of 1,924,732 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #254,761 of 1,924,732 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.