Moral particularism

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Moral particularism is an applied ethics view that there are no moral principles and that moral judgement is determined by relevant factors in a particular context. [1] This stands in stark contrast to other prominent moral theories, such as deontology or utilitarianism. Deontology states that people have a set of duties (that are to be considered or respected); utilitarianism states that people are to respect the happiness or the preferences of others in their actions.

Applied ethics refers to the practical application of moral considerations. It is ethics with respect to real-world actions and their moral considerations in the areas of private and public life, the professions, health, technology, law, and leadership. For example, the bioethics community is concerned with identifying the correct approach to moral issues in the life sciences, such as euthanasia, the allocation of scarce health resources, or the use of human embryos in research. Environmental ethics is concerned with ecological issues such as the responsibility of government and corporations to clean up pollution. Business ethics includes questions regarding the duties or duty of 'whistleblowers' to the general public or their loyalty to their employers.

Utilitarianism is a family of consequentialist ethical theories that promotes actions that maximize happiness and well-being for the majority of a population. Although different varieties of utilitarianism admit different characterizations, the basic idea behind all of them is to in some sense maximize utility, which is often defined in terms of well-being or related concepts. For instance, Jeremy Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism, described utility as "that property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness...[or] to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered." Utilitarianism is a version of consequentialism, which states that the consequences of any action are the only standard of right and wrong. Unlike other forms of consequentialism, such as egoism and altruism, utilitarianism considers the interests of all beings equally.



The term "particularism" was coined to designate this position by R. M. Hare, in 1963 (Freedom and Reason, Oxford: Clarendon, p. 18).

R. M. Hare British moral philosopher

Richard Mervyn Hare, usually cited as R. M. Hare, was an English moral philosopher who held the post of White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford from 1966 until 1983. He subsequently taught for a number of years at the University of Florida. His meta-ethical theories were influential during the second half of the twentieth century.


Jonathan Dancy argued that cases whether they're imagined or otherwise, cases contain certain elements in which we can infer certain moral ideas from. [2]

Jonathan Dancy British philosopher

Jonathan Peter Dancy, FBA is a British philosopher, who has written on ethics and epistemology. He is currently Professor of Philosophy at University of Texas at Austin and Research Professor at the University of Reading. He taught previously for many years at the University of Keele.


A criticism of moral particularism is that it is inherently irrational; as to be rational in relation to moral thought that you have to be consistent and apply that consistently to moral issues which Moral Particularism does not. [3]

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  1. "Moral Particularism". Internet Encyclopedia Of Philosophy. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  2. "Moral Particularism and the Role of Imaginary Cases". European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  3. "Moral Particularism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 17 October 2019.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) combines an online encyclopedia of philosophy with peer-reviewed publication of original papers in philosophy, freely accessible to Internet users. It is maintained by Stanford University. Each entry is written and maintained by an expert in the field, including professors from many academic institutions worldwide. Authors contributing to the encyclopedia give Stanford University the permission to publish the articles, but retain the copyright to those articles.

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