Moral reasons : particularism, patterns and practice
This is the study of the extent of the patternability of the reason-giving behaviour of morally relevant features in different ethical contexts. Whether or not the way in which a morally relevant feature contributes to the moral evaluation of different cases is generalis able is examined in this research. I argue in favour of a core and constitutive modest-generalistic theme, according to which there are general patterns of word use, to which the reason-giving behaviour of moral vocabulary in different contexts is answerable. To this end, I reject the constitutive particularistic claim which holds that the way in which a morally relevant feature behaves in different cases is fully context-dependent. An account drawn from Wittgenstein with regard to the nature of concepts which emphasises the key role of the concept 'practice' is presented to give an account of how the reason-giving behaviour of a morally relevant feature in different contexts is answerable to general patterns of word use. Ross's ethics is introduced as an example of the modest-generalistic position. To substantiate this modest-generalistic position, an apparent dilemma is presented for particularists, e.g. Dancy. In order to resolve the second horn of the dilemma, which is an example of a general problem with which any generalistic account is confronted, the account drawn from Wittgenstein with regard to the nature of concepts is again used. Finally, a distinction between the first order and the second order account of the concept 'practice' is presented to give a more plausible account of the concept 'practice' which has an indispensable role in the Wittgensteinian account.