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Moral Coherence and Principle Pluralism

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This paper develops and defends a conception of moral coherence that is suitable for use in contexts of principle pluralism. I argue that, as they are traditionally understood, coherence methods stack the deck against pluralist theories, by incorporating norms such as systematicity—that the principles of a theory should be as few and as simple as possible. I develop and defend an alternative, minimal, conception of coherence that focuses instead on consistency. It has been suggested that consistency in this context should aim at the avoidance of conflict, but I argue against this: what matters is “case consistency,” or judging consistently from one case to another. This means judging in accordance with morally relevant similarities and differences. I defend my proposal of minimal coherence from objections having to do with complexity and arbitrariness.

Affiliations: 1: University of Waterloo,


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