Thursday, February 05, 2004

Ethical Universalism and Particularism

I've just been reading some rubbish about "ethical particularism" in David Miller's book On Nationalisty. Rather I should have said that I've been reading some good stuff about this "ethical particularism" rubbish--the book is quite good: it's the doctrine that sucks.

There are two reasons that we should reject ethical particularism in favor of ethical universalism:

(1) Ethical universalism (like physicalism) is an aggressor hypothesis. Historically, the further we go in ethical reflection, the smarter, more educated, more experienced and more sophisticated we become as individuals the more we move int he direction of ethical universalism. Like Newtonian mechanics as an explanation of celestial motion where there was formerly a grossly disjunctive one, ethical universalism provides a unifying hypothesis.

(2) We don't just go increasingly toward ethical universalism, both as individuals and as a species: at every stage, we regard our progress along the way as a good thing. We have meta-intuitions, so to speak.