Moral holism, moral generalism, and moral dispositionalism

Mind 115 (458):331-360 (2006)
Abstract
Moral principles play important roles in diverse areas of moral thought, practice, and theory. Many who think of themselves as ‘moral generalists’ believe that moral principles can play these roles—that they are capable of doing so. Moral generalism maintains that moral principles can and do play these roles because true moral principles are statements of general moral fact (i.e. statements of facts about the moral attributes of kinds of actions, kinds of states of affairs, etc.) and because general moral facts explain particular moral facts (i.e. facts about the moral attributes of particulars). Moral holism maintains that what is a moral reason to φ in one case may not be one in another, and may even be a moral reason not to φ given suitable circumstances. Some ‘moral particularists’ maintain that moral holism motivates scepticism about the existence of and need for moral principles, along with scepticism about the viability of principle-based approaches to ethics and moral theory. But I argue that moral holism is itself a form of moral generalism, one that takes facts about the right- and wrong-making powers of (generic) moral factors to explain certain particular moral facts—namely, the rightness and wrongness of particular actions. I also argue that a moral-theoretic version of dispositionalism—the view that dispositions, powers, or capacities are the fundamental units of explanation—explains both why moral holism is true and why moral generalism is true.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/mind/fzl331
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: 30,781
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
A Defense of a Particularist Research Program.Uri D. Leibowitz - 2009 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (2):181-199.
Moral Principles As Moral Dispositions.Luke Robinson - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (2):289-309.
Another Particularism: Reasons, Status and Defaults. [REVIEW]Alan Thomas - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (2):151-167.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Moral Principles Are Not Moral Laws.Luke Robinson - 2008 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 2 (3):1-22.
Moral Particularism.Pekka Väyrynen - 2011 - In Christian B. Miller (ed.), The Continuum Companion to Ethics. Continuum. pp. 478-483.
Principled Ethics: Generalism as a Regulative Ideal. [REVIEW]Vojko Strahovnik - 2007 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 7 (21):512-518.
Moral Principles As Moral Dispositions.Luke Robinson - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (2):289-309.
Usable Moral Principles.Pekka Väyrynen - 2008 - In Vojko Strahovnik, Matjaz Potrc & Mark Norris Lance (eds.), Challenging Moral Particularism. Routledge.
Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total downloads
119 ( #42,801 of 2,199,753 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #300,206 of 2,199,753 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature