Moral Principles Are Not Moral Laws


Authors
Luke Robinson
Southern Methodist University
Abstract
What are moral principles? The assumption underlying much of the generalism–particularism debate in ethics is that they are (or would be) moral laws: generalizations or some special class thereof, such as explanatory or counterfactual-supporting generalizations. I argue that this law conception of moral principles is mistaken. For moral principles do at least three things that moral laws cannot do, at least not in their own right: explain certain phenomena, provide particular kinds of support for counterfactuals, and ground moral necessities, “necessary connections” between obligating reasons and obligations. Moreover, neither a best-systems theory of moral principles nor any of the competing theories of moral principles proposed by Sean McKeever and Michael Ridge, Pekka Väyrynen, and Mark Lance and Margaret Little could vindicate the law conception of moral principles. I conclude with some brief remarks about what moral principles might be if they are not moral laws.
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Reprint years 2008
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DOI 10.26556/jesp.v2i3.27
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References found in this work BETA

Scientific Essentialism.H. Beebee - 2004 - Mind 113 (450):334-340.
Laws of Nature.Fred Dretske - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (2):248-268.

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Citations of this work BETA

Moral Particularism.Pekka Väyrynen - 2011 - In Christian B. Miller (ed.), The Continuum Companion to Ethics. Continuum. pp. 478-483.
Moral Laws, Laws of Nature and Dispositions.Danny Frederick - 2014 - Prolegomena: Journal of Philosophy 13 (2):303-14.
Another Particularism: Reasons, Status and Defaults. [REVIEW]Alan Thomas - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (2):151-167.
Moral Principles As Moral Dispositions.Luke Robinson - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (2):289-309.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

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.
Moral Particularism.Brad Hooker & Margaret Olivia Little (eds.) - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Moral Particularism.Pekka Väyrynen - 2011 - In Christian B. Miller (ed.), The Continuum Companion to Ethics. Continuum. pp. 478-483.

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