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Title: Moral epistemology, particularism and generalism
Author: Rickard , Joel
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis is a contribution to the debate between moral generalism and moral particularism. Generalism is the view that morality both can and needs to be-expressed in finite and manageable general principles. Particularists challenge this claim. In this thesis I defend particularism. This involves four contributions: (i) In chapter 1 I present an account of what exactly a principle is, as surprisingly little analysis of this central term has been carried out. This includes a reply to the constitutive generalist, who argues that without principles that there would be no way of demarcating the correct use of the terms 'right' and 'wrong'. (ii) In chapter 2 I develop an argument for reasons holism, which is typically advanced as the basis for adopting particularism. Although I agree that some versions of holism are consistent with generalism, I show there is one version which is not. This, in turn, places the onus on the generalist to show why this version of holism is implausible. (iii) Chapters 3 and 4 form my main contribution to the debate. Particularists have been accused of having an untenable epistemology rooted in their commitment to a fonn of moral intuitionism. Throughout these chapters my main claims are as follows: a. intuitionism can be divorced from foundationalism b. particularism cannot adopt foundationalism c. intuitionism is consistent with coherentism d. particularism is consistent with coherentism e. coherentism is a tenable moral epistemology It follows that particularists can remain loyal to their historical commitments to intuitionism whilst adopting a coherentist moral epistemology. (iv) In the final part of chapter 4 I tackle some of the worries associated with the particularist's putative recommendation that we abandon using principles in our . everyday moralizing. My focus here is special pleading.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available