A particularist account of moral principles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


In this article I respond to Rebecca Stangl’s criticism of Jonathan Dancy’s outline for a particularist account of moral principles which identifies a number of important problems that do call for a response from particularists. In order to give such a response I develop a novel particularist account of moral principles that avoids the problems in question. By clarifying the distinction between articulating a principle and examining its truth I explain, pace Stangl, how moral principles can be derived from imaginary or actual individual cases, how principles derived from particular cases can create general moral presumptions, how such principles can be justified, and what the truth of moral principles consists in. I conclude with a discussion of the employment of principles to justify moral judgments, and explain how the proposed account of moral principles avoids a problem concerning moral responsibility that arises for generalist accounts of the justificatory use of principles, such as Stangl assumes, according to which a principle ought to show the actual moral relevance of a property in a given case. Overall my aim is to articulate, by answering six puzzles that Dancy has raised for moral philosophy, an alternative to the traditional generalist picture of the role and significance of moral principles in/for moral thought.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-229
Number of pages29
JournalEthical Perspectives
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Particularism
  • generalism
  • moral principles
  • moral responsibility
  • Jonathan Dancy
  • Rebecca Stangl
  • Moral responsibility
  • Generalism
  • Moral principles

Cite this