Moral Generalism: Enjoy in Moderation

Ethics 116 (4):707-741 (2006)
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Abstract

I defend moral generalism against particularism. Particularism, as I understand it, is the negation of the generalist view that particular moral facts depend on the existence of a comprehensive set of true moral principles. Particularists typically present "the holism of reasons" as powerful support for their view. While many generalists accept that holism supports particularism but dispute holism, I argue that generalism accommodates holism. The centerpiece of my strategy is a novel model of moral principles as a kind of "hedged" principles that incorporate an independently plausible "basis thesis" concerning the explanation of moral reasons. The model implies that moral reasons requires the existence of a comprehensive set of true hedged principles, and so it captures generalism. But the model also offers an alternative explanation of holism, and so it undercuts much of the motivation for particularism. I defend this moderate (because holism-tolerating) form of generalism against a number of objections, and show how it can be used to defeat three distinct arguments from holism to particularism.

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Pekka Väyrynen
University of Leeds

Citations of this work

The Importance of Being Rational.Errol Lord - 2013 - Dissertation, Princeton University
Grounding and Normative Explanation.Pekka Väyrynen - 2013 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):155-178.

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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
E-type pronouns and donkey anaphora.Irene Heim - 1990 - Linguistics and Philosophy 13 (2):137--77.
Utilitarianism and the virtues.Philippa Foot - 1985 - Mind 94 (374):196-209.
The additive fallacy.Shelly Kagan - 1988 - Ethics 99 (1):5-31.

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