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Title: Make no exceptions for yourself : a Kantian response to the particularist challenge
Author: Schumski, Irina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 9266
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2017
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The primary aim of this thesis is to examine whether and how Kantian ethicists can accommodate the intuitions that motivate moral particularism: the intuition that the moral domain is very complex, that our moral obligations vary with circumstances in ways that are hard to codify, and that there are exceptions to most, if not all, moral principles that we can think of or formulate (Part One). The secondary aim of this thesis is to draw on the insights gained in the course of this investigation in order to contribute to the solution of two other problems that occupy contemporary Kantian ethicists (Part Two). To begin with, I discuss and reject a number of existing attempts to account for the circumstance-dependence of our moral obligations within a Kantian framework. What all these attempts have in common is the assumption that, for Kant, a principle of duty is universally valid only if it is valid in all cases or situations. I call this the “Case-Scope Reading” of Kant’s conception of universal validity. When combined with the requirements that emerge from the challenge mounted by their particularist opponents, this reading throws Kantians on the horns of a trilemma. In response, I suggest that we should rethink this understanding of universal validity in light of the distinctive role and significance assigned to universal rules within Kant’s theory of objective knowledge. If we do, we are led to what I call the “Agent-Scope Reading” of Kant’s conception of universal validity: the view that a principle is universally valid if and only if it can be agreed to hold by all rational agents (qua judging subjects) and for all such agents (qua objects judged) in the same circumstances. This reading has a number of advantages. Not only does it expose the trilemma mentioned above as merely apparent, it also helps Kantians to dissolve the so-called Problem of Relevant Descriptions and to defend Kantian Constructivism against its Humean critics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BJ Ethics