Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Generalism v particularism

Our first assignment is to read an article written by Jonathan Dancy in which it is argued that there are no moral principles, everything in morality is situation or context dependant.

My response to this challenge is as follows:

I agree with Dancy that it's difficult to formulate moral principles that apply in all circumstances, but I do not think that we must conclude that there are no moral principles just because it is not easy to formulate them.

There are two possible solutions to this problem:
1. We need to formulate the rules in a way that allows for exceptions and special pleading
2. There are in fact rules which are universal

Approach 1, might say that for every rule we add an addendum which states "unless to follow the rule would lead to more harm than not following the rule". I do not think it is unreasonable to develop a rule which allows for exceptions in certain circumstances and by doing so I don't think this means that the rule isn't a rule. Alternatively, we could make the rule more complex and thereby allow for unusual situations.

Approach 2 - what about the 'golden rule' that we should always treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves? I am struggling to think of a situation where this doesn't apply.

I have been thinking about how we apply rules in other circumstances and came up with the example of the rules of golf. When we agree to play a game by a set of agreed rules, those rules apply in all circumstances. There is no special pleading. Maybe the problem is that often the way we frame moral rules is too simplistic - the rules of golf run to many pages and thereby try and take account of special circumstances, such allowing for inclement weather and lightning.

No comments:

Post a Comment