Moral Coherence and Principle Pluralism

Journal of Moral Philosophy (2013) DOI 10.1163/17455243-4681032

32 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2013

See all articles by Patricia Marino

Patricia Marino

University of Waterloo - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: August 14, 2012


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's 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.

Keywords: moral coherence, moral conflict, dilemmas, pluralism, reflective equilibrium

Suggested Citation

Marino, Patricia, Moral Coherence and Principle Pluralism (August 14, 2012). Journal of Moral Philosophy (2013) DOI 10.1163/17455243-4681032, Available at SSRN:

Patricia Marino (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo - Department of Philosophy ( email )

200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1

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