What role, if any, should principles play in our moral
theorizing and in our moral practice? Generalists hold that moral principles are
indispensable to morality. Particularists challenge this claim. As the leading
particularist Jonathan Dancy describes it, particularism is the view that “moral
thought and judgement in no way depends on a suitable provision of [moral
principles].” Dancy’s own work focused
on developing a novel holistic theory of reasons according to which “what is a
reason in one case may be no reason at all in another, or even a reason on the
other side.” Dancy 2004 is a must read for anyone interested in this topic.
Interest in particularism has grown over the past 20-30 years. There are now various
formulations of the central particularist commitment and many interesting criticisms
of the particularist research program (many of which are collected in this
category). One of the central critical texts is McKeever & Ridge 2006. A very informative
collection on the topic is Hooker & Little 2000, and
more recently Potrc et al 2007.