Ethics Without Principles

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Jonathan Dancy presents a long-awaited exposition and defence of particularism in ethics, a view with which he has been associated for twenty years. He argues that the traditional link between morality and principles, or between being moral and having principles, is little more than a mistake. The possibility of moral thought and judgement does not in any way depend on an adequate supply of principles. Dancy grounds this claim on a form of reasons-holism, holding that what is a reason in one case need not be any reason in another, and maintaining that moral reasons are no different in this respect from others. He puts forward a distinctive form of value-holism to go with the holism of reasons, and he gives a detailed discussion, much needed, of the currently popular topic of 'contributory' reasons. Opposing positions of all sorts are summarized and criticized. Ethics Without Principles is the definitive statement of particularist ethical theory, and will be required reading for all those working on moral philosophy and ethical theory.