Dissertation, University of Michigan (1991)
AbstractDemands of generality pervade contemporary moral philosophy. For example, both Samuel Scheffler and Shelly Kagan demand a general justification for certain agent-centered features of morality. I argue, however, that these demands are often unjustified. My aim is to level the playing field between our more specific and our more general moral convictions, allowing neither to win by default. ;I begin by distinguishing generality from universality and consistency, and go on to identify several common motivations for generality in ethics. For each such motivation, I articulate and evaluate the demands to which it gives rise. First, I consider and reject arguments that the origins of our more specific moral convictions taint them beyond credibility and that insufficiently general moral beliefs may be biased in favor of those holding them. Second, I consider more prominent arguments for generality, connected with a concern about justification. I show that some foundationalists are committed to the view that moral justifications must terminate in very general principles, and that some coherentists are committed to a simplicity demand which is, in effect, a demand for generality as well. I argue that these approaches share a common motivation in the view that insufficiently general moral propositions are true, if at all, only for further reasons--a claim I vigorously dispute. Third, I consider various pragmatic justifications for generality. I argue that the pragmatic value of highly general principles is overrated, and that what pragmatic value they do have must often be weighed against our substantive moral concerns. I conclude that generality in ethics, although important, is not as important as it has seemed to be.
Similar books and articles
Generality and moral justification.Don Loeb - 1996 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (1):79-96.
The specificity of the generality problem.Earl Conee - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (3):751-762.
Particularism and default reasons.Pekka Väyrynen - 2004 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 7 (1):53-79.
How to make the generality problem work for you.Christopher Lepock - 2009 - Acta Analytica 24 (4):275-286.
Why the generality problem is everybody’s problem.Michael A. Bishop - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (2):285 - 298.
Unlimited Possibilities.Gonçalo Santos - 2011 - In Michal Peliš & Vít Punčochář (eds.), The Logica Yearbook. College Publications.
Is the Generality Problem too General?Michael Levin - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (1):87 - 97.
Is there a well-founded solution to the generality problem?Jonathan D. Matheson - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (2):459-468.
Multinationals, local practice, and the problem of ethical consistency.Arnold Berleant - 1982 - Journal of Business Ethics 1 (3):185 - 193.
Usable moral principles.Pekka Väyrynen - 2008 - In Vojko Strahovnik, Matjaz Potrc & Mark Norris Lance (eds.), Challenging Moral Particularism. Routledge. pp. 75-106.
A Difference that Makes a Difference: Welfare and the Equality of Consideration.Elijah Weber - 2010 - Between the Species 13 (10):6.
Expressive meaning in music: Generality versus particularity.Krzysztof Guczalski - 2005 - British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (4):342-367.
Can We Consistently Say That We Cannot Speak About Everything?Laureano Luna - 2008 - The Reasoner 2 (9):5-7.
Added to PP
Historical graph of downloads