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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Moral particularism and generalism are families of views united by their denial or affirmation (respectively) that general moral principles play some fundamental role in morality. In this survey of the generalism/particularism debate, I distinguish between contributory and overall moral principles and between two distinct roles, standards and guides, which either sort of principles might be claimed to play. Next I describe three different forms which particularist opposition to any of these kinds of principles can take. I then survey debates about whether moral principles play a fundamental role either as standards or as guides. Throughout I pay particular attention to issues and arguments which involve claims about normative reasons that favor or justify things or explanatory reasons that explain their moral features. I also note some broader implications of these arguments for both moral theory and the theory of reasons, and point to questions that merit further work.

Keywords: holism of reasons, moral generalism, moral particularism, moral principles, normative explanation, normative reasons

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