Scientific Explanation and Moral Explanation

Noûs 45 (3):472-503 (2011)

Authors
Uri D. Leibowitz
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Abstract
Moral philosophers are, among other things, in the business of constructing moral theories. And moral theories are, among other things, supposed to explain moral phenomena. Consequently, one’s views about the nature of moral explanation will influence the kinds of moral theories one is willing to countenance. Many moral philosophers are (explicitly or implicitly) committed to a deductive model of explanation. As I see it, this commitment lies at the heart of the current debate between moral particularists and moral generalists. In this paper I argue that we have good reasons to give up this commitment. In fact, I show that an examination of the literature on scientific explanation reveals that we are used to, and comfortable with, non-deductive explanations in almost all areas of inquiry. As a result, I argue that we have reason to believe that moral explanations need not be grounded in exceptionless moral principles.
Keywords Explanation  Particularism  Generalism
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Reprint years 2010, 2011
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0068.2010.00775.x
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References found in this work BETA

Ethics Without Principles.Jonathan Dancy - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1983 - University of Notre Dame Press.
How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Understanding Why.Alison Hills - 2015 - Noûs 49 (2):661-688.
Understanding Why.Alison Hills - 2016 - Noûs 50 (4):661-688.
Particularism in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.Uri D. Leibowitz - 2013 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (2):121-147.
Explaining Moral Knowledge.Uri D. Leibowitz - 2014 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (1):35-56.

View all 10 citations / Add more citations

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