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Reader, Soran. Principle Ethics, Particularism, and Another Possibility
1997, Philosophy 72 (280):269 - 292
Added by: Deryn Mair Thomas

One of the most striking contributions of particularism to moral philosophy has been its emphasis on the relative opacity of the moral scene to the tools of rational analysis traditionally used by philosophers. Particularism changes the place of the philosopher in relation to the moral life, pointing up the limits to what philosophy can do here. The modern moral philosopher who takes particularism seriously no longer has the luxury, endemic in our tradition, of imagining that moral philosophy can be done with only passing illustrative reference to experience, or that the truth about the whole of our moral life may be read of a list of a priori moral principles, whose rationality is underwritten by the mechanistic account of what it is to follow a rule that pre-Wittgensteinian philosophers took for granted.

Comment: In this paper, Reader argues that neither particularism nor principle ethics can satisfactorily describe the moral life for what it is, and presents an novel critique of particularism. It would offer an interesting discussion for a graduate level metaethics course or reading group.

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