Particularism and Antitheory

Mark Lance and Margaret Little

in The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780195325911
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Particularism and Antitheory


This article surveys the current debate over particularism. Distinguishing motives, targets, and positions, it attempts to recast the crucial issues that divide different approaches and lay out the implications of various sorts of particularism for the possibility of moral theory. In its most interesting form, moral particularism is both more insightful and less hostile to theory than many suppose: The upshot of particularism is not to dispatch explanatory generalizations in morality, but to offer a fundamentally different view of what they are and how they do their job. The main goal of this article is to provide a map through the complex terrain of moral particularism to situate more properly its various claims—and its controversies—in moral philosophy.

Keywords: particularism; crucial issues; moral theory; morality; moral philosophy

Article.  13100 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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