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Moral principles as generics.pdf (258.87 kB)

Moral principles as generics

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-10, 05:34 authored by Ravi Thakral
I argue that moral principles involve the same sort of generalization as ordinary yet elusive generic generalizations in natural language such as 'Tigers are striped' or 'Peppers are spicy'. A notable advantage of the generic view is that it simultaneously allows for pessimism and optimism about the role and status of moral principles in our lives. It provides a new perspective on the nature of moral principles on which principles are not apt for determining the moral status of particular actions while they may be apt, and even fundamental, to our acquisition of moral knowledge. A natural consequence of the view is variation amongst moral principles, with some regularly warranting exceptions, and some appearing arguably exceptionless. It is also argued that this generic conception of moral principles has significant advantages, as a normative model of moral reasoning, over the view of moral principles as defaults advanced in recent years.


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Journal of the American Philosophical Association




Cambridge University Press

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