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As I understand it, descriptive relativism, acknowledging that there are very many disagreements about morality, ones which are often practically intractable, feeds into moral skepticism. As I'd assume that, when a moral dilemma usually does not end in agreement, it becomes more difficult to argue against epistemological moral skepticism, for moral knowledge or belief.

I wondered how particularism, which I understand as idea that there are no moral "principles" and moral perfection would be better conceived of as a special form of responsiveness to the particular situations, fares with skeptical discourse similar to the above.

I have no idea at all, and imagine it could go either way. On the one hand, without principles agreement on moral questions might be even trickier to come by. Yet on the other hand, that may just matter less.


I'm asking less because I'm struggling to work out right from wrong, than I am struggling to work out why it is that the majority of (seemingly) right thinking people seem to embrace decisions for moral reasons that seem almost entirely vacuous to me.

Just to take a (pitiful) example: someone asking for help from another only to meet the claim that, that person would feel uncomfortable doing so. Or that help might lead to more group conflict.

Both claims seem philosophically vacuous, as well as idiosyncratic. I just wondered why anyone believes this stuff. It makes me want to throw up my hands and say that there is no moral knowledge and let's hope no-one sets fire to anything.

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    Particularism is more resistant to skepticism since it takes moral knowledge to be knowledge-how, a skill, with no general principles to disprove by exhibiting disagreement or providing counterexamples to. Much of seeming disagreement can then be written off as trying to pass moral judgment based on incomplete description of situations, with the relevant details filled in differently by different people. Even more can be written off by saying that some people are less morally skilled than others. "Why someone believes stuff" is not always an answerable question, and not just with moral skills. – Conifold Aug 17 '19 at 0:18
  • i'd thought of that, and now probably think it. would be nice to have a reference. @Conifold i find your last sentence intriguing, but it's off topic to ask about. – user38026 Aug 17 '19 at 0:20
  • Dancy's Ethics without Principles is a standard exposition. – Conifold Aug 17 '19 at 0:40
  • thanks @Conifold i read some of it and e.g. " we can perfectly well rely on people by and large to do what is right in the circumstances. We don't need principles" is helpful, but there is no mention of skepticism and seems only suggestive of your argument. – user38026 Aug 17 '19 at 1:57
  • There is more in the book than in the review, but I doubt that particularists would want to be selling themselves as being one step back from relativism and skepticism. – Conifold Aug 17 '19 at 3:59

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