Acta Analytica

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 30-40

First online:

Dancy Cartwright: Particularism in the philosophy of science

  • Constantine SandisAffiliated withOxford Brookes University

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This paper aims to explore the space of possible particularistic approaches to Philosophy of Science by examining the differences and similarities between Jonathan Dancy’s moral particularism—as expressed in both his earlier writings (e.g., Moral Reasons, 1993), and, more explicitly defended in his book Ethics without Principles (2004)—and Nancy Cartwright’s particularism in the philosophy of science, as defended in her early collection of essays, How the Laws of Physics Lie (1983), and her later book, The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science (1999). I shall argue that Dancy’s particularism is more radical, but also more plausible, than Cartwright’s, concluding that we have good reason to embrace a scientific particularism that is far closer to Dancy’s ethical particularism than any view defended by Nancy Cartwright, or any other philosopher from the ‘Stanford school’ of scientific theory.


particularism philosophy of science explanation causation Dancy Cartwright moral reasons