Category Archives: Holidays

Thanksgiving 2017

My good friends at positivehealthwellness have asked me to share a wonderful menu with you all this year.

What a year this has been, I have been shown how to be humble and to show compassion, from our creator.

How to forgive others, and let go of the past.

This year was absolutely crucial in my growth as a person. I give thanks to God, my family, my friends, and the ones who believe in me.

Well, may you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving 2017 and enjoy a few menu suggestions.

Not sure what to make this year?

Here is the ultimate Thanksgiving dinner menu that goes through absolutely everything you need for this year.

Don’t forget the sides and get a turkey dinner to die for!

For the Turkey: 3-Way Roulade

Why not make a Turkey roulade instead of a traditional bird this year. There are a few benefits to this. You will know that all the meat is cooked before you start serving everything up and you create smaller portions for everyone. We always end up overeating at Thanksgiving, and it’s not great for the waistline.

You will also get to avoid the big turkeys. You just need some turkey breasts, helping to keep the costs down.

The 3-way roulade offers three different stuffings for your bird. You can do all three if you’d like, but make sure you stock up on extra turkey breasts. This recipe will give you enough turkey for one filling of choice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 skinless, boneless turkey breasts
  • 1 filling of choice (fillings below)
  • 1 1/2tbsp oil of choice
  • Salt and black pepper, for seasoning
  • Fennel-apple filling ingredients:
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 2 apples, cored and chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 2tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 2tbsp fennel fronds, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Bacon and Mushroom Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1lb mushrooms of choice, chopped
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup of dry white wine
  • 3tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Sausage and Cornbread Filling Ingredients:

  • 8oz of Italian sausage, out of the casing
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups of cornbread, crumbled
  • 1tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • ½ cup of chicken stock
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with foil
  • Butterfly the turkey breasts, avoiding slicing all the way through
  • Wrap one open breast with cling film and pound to about ¼ inch thick
  • Season the breast with salt and pepper and then repeat with the second
  • Make your filling (method for each below) and then spread half into a turkey breast, pressing into the meat
  • Roll the turkey breast tightly and secure with butcher’s twine, tucking the ends in
  • Repeat with the other turkey breast, roll both breasts into oil, and season with more salt and pepper
  • Place on the baking sheet and cook for 40-45 minutes
  • Stand for 10 minutes and then slice to serve

Fennel and Apple Filling Method:

  • Cook the fennel bulb, shallots, butter, and apple in a skillet over a medium heat until golden
  • Stir in the fennel fronds and tarragon and then season

Bacon and Mushroom Filling Method:

  • Cook the bacon for 6-8 minutes in a skillet over a medium heat
  • Place on a plate and pour away the dripping, apart from 1 1/2tbsp
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Add in the parsley and scallions, cooking for another 2 minutes
  • Add the wine and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the wine evaporates
  • Stir in the breadcrumbs and mix everything together, seasoning with the salt and pepper

Sausage and Cornbread Filling Method:

  • Cook the sausage for 5-7 minutes in a skillet over a medium to high heat, breaking the sausage into smaller pieces
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute
  • Add in the thyme and cornbread and then remove from the heat
  • Stir in the chicken stock to fully combine, and then season with the salt and pepper

For the Sides: Make Rosemary Monkey Bread Stuffing

Even with the stuffed turkey, people will want stuffing on the sides. There’s just something about Thanksgiving that calls for a delicious stuffing to sit on the side to work with the rest of your food options.

This rosemary monkey bread stuffing is perfect. The kids will love the name, and they’ll want to help you make it. Just expect questions about cooking monkeys when you have smaller children!

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4tbsp butter
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2lb rosemary focaccia, cubed (if you can’t find the bread, you can use 1 1/2tbsp chopped fresh rosemary)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 375F and butter a springform pan
  • Cook the onion and celery with the butter in a skillet for 8-10 minutes over a medium heat
  • Transfer to a bowl, allowing to cool for five minutes
  • Whisk the eggs and chicken stock until combined in a bowl and then season with the salt and pepper, and then add the onion and celery mixture
  • Stir in the focaccia
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the bread, is golden brown
  • Cool for 5 minutes and then remove from the pan

This is much better served warm. If you want to use leftovers, reheat in the microwave or oven.

Vegetable Side: Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Nobody likes Brussels sprouts on their own. While you’ll want to get the health benefits of sprouts, you’ll want to make them taste amazing. This gratin is the perfect way to do that.

Ingredients:

  • 3lb of Brussels sprouts, halved and trimmed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of half and half
  • 9oz of Gruyere cheese, grated and divided
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 375F and butter a baking dish
  • Fill a pan with salted water and boil the sprouts for 5-8 minutes
  • Drain the sprouts and rinse with cold water to quickly cool, and then lay them out on a baking sheet lined with paper towels
  • In a saucepan, cook the butter and garlic over medium heat for a minute and then sprinkle with the flour
  • Whisk the mixture for a minute, before adding in the half and half while whisking
  • Simmer for 6-7 minutes, whisking regularly to help thicken
  • Remove from the heat and then add in 6oz of the cheese, whisking, and season with the salt and pepper
  • Pour everything into a baking dish and top with the remaining cheese, and then bake for 25-30 minutes

Allow cooling a little before serving. The kids will barely notice that you’ve served them Brussels sprouts. If you want to go one step further, you can chop the sprouts after cooking to help mix in with the cheese. It’s not quite as filling, but you’ll disguise the fact that you have sprouts!

Potato Side: Slow Cooked Mash

Mashed potatoes

Mash potatoes are a must-have for your Thanksgiving dinner. While they are well cooked normally, these will help to eliminate some of the stress from the day.

Ingredients:

  • 4lb of potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/3 cup of chives, fresh and chopped
  • ½ cup of milk, warmed
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Method:

  • In a slow cooker, cook the potatoes with the chicken stock and salt on high for up to 3 hours or low for up to 5 hours
  • Drain the stock and put the potatoes back into the slow cooker
  • Add the sour cream and mash to preferred consistency
  • Fold in the chives and milk, adding more milk if necessary
  • Season to taste and serve, topping with chives if you’d like

You will have people asking for seconds. You may find that this is a Sunday roast mash that you make a lot more regularly than Thanksgiving!

A Side Dish with a Difference: Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Salad

Potato and egg salad is commonly made, but you can opt for something a little different this Thanksgiving. You want to opt for a cauliflower and sweet potato salad instead. You get a mixture of flavors packed with a healthy punch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2lbs sweet potatoes, chopped into wedges
  • 1 cauliflower head, chopped into florets
  • 7tbsp oil of choice, divided
  • 3tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 8 cups of mixed lettuces, torn
  • 2/3 cup of pomegranate seeds
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with foil
  • Mix the potatoes, cauliflower, and 3tbsp oil, seasoning with the salt and pepper
  • Roast for 25-30 minutes
  • Whisk the rest of the oil in the vinegar, seasoning with some salt and pepper
  • Add the lettuce, pomegranate, and roasted vegetables and coat everything

With the Brussels sprouts and this potato salad, you will not need any more vegetables on the side. If you want them, just grab some frozen veggies like carrots and peas. You’ll find your guests won’t be that interested in them though.

Time for Dessert: Sweet Potato Snickerdoodles

Whoever said dessert has to be unhealthy and full of sugar? These alternative Snickerdoodles are the way to feed the sweet tooth without feeling like you’re forcing health onto your guests.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 1/4tsp baking soda
  • 1/4tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 1/2tsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1 cup of butter, sat at room temperature
  • 1 can of sweet potato puree
  • 2/3 pt of confectioners’ sugar
  • 2tsp vanilla extract, preferably pure
  • 1 ½ cups of granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can of dulce de leche

Method:

  • Whisk the flour with the salt, baking soda, 2tsp cinnamon, and cream of tartar
  • In a separate bowl, beat the butter with the puree, 1 cup of granulated sugar, all the confectioners’ sugar, and all the vanilla extract until fluffy
  • Add the eggs to the sweet potato puree mixture one at a time, beating until each one is blended
  • Add the flour mixture until everything is combined
  • Cover and chill for at least 2 hours to overnight
  • Preheat the oven to 375F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Stir the rest of the cinnamon and sugar together in a bowl
  • Roll up the dough into 1tbsp balls and then roll into the sugared cinnamon
  • Arrange on the baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes
  • Cook for a minute and then place on wire racks to continue cooling
  • Spread the dulce de leche on the flat side of the cookies and sandwich two together

Second Dessert: Pumpkin Cookie Crust Cheesecake

While the sweet potato sandwich cookies are great, they’re just not quite a dessert, right? You want a pie or cake that you can cut into. This is where this second dessert will help. You get a mixture of needs and wants with the pumpkin, the cheesecake, and a delicious cookie crust. Make sure you have room for a second slice. You’ll want it!

Ingredients:

  • 12 pecan sandy cookies, plus extra to garnish
  • ½ cup of pecans, roasted and salted preferably
  • 3tbsp butter, melted
  • 2tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3/4tsp salt, divided
  • 8oz cream cheese, left at room temperature
  • 8oz of sour cream, left at room temperature
  • 1 cup of light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 15 oz of pure pumpkin puree
  • 2tsp vanilla extract, preferably pure
  • 1 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2tsp ground nutmeg

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F and place the rack in the middle
  • Place the pecans and cookies in a blender and pulse until ground finely
  • Add the butter, granulated sugar, a 1/4tsp salt, and pulse until combined
  • Press the mixture into the bottom of a springform pan and then bake for 10-12 minutes
  • Allow to cool completely in the pan and then wrap the pan with aluminum foil
  • Reduce the oven to 300F
  • Beat the cheese with the brown sugar and sour cream until smooth and then add the eggs one at a time, beating each one
  • Add the rest of the ingredients with the remaining salt, and beat until blended
  • Pour the mixture into the cookie crust and bake for 1hr 10 minutes; the edges will be set, but the middle will still be wobbly
  • Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in with door closed for an hour
  • Remove from the oven and loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan with a knife gently, keeping the pan intact
  • Allow to cook for an hour and then cover and chill for at least 8 hours

Only after chilling should you remove from the pan. This helps to keep the setting, so the cheesecake doesn’t end up an unserviceable mess! Serve with some of the pecans, cookies, and a bit of whipped cream!

My thanks to Danielle and her team. Have a wonderful Holiday!

(SOURCE)

Saint Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day 2016!

saint_valentine2

Today, on Febuary 14th, 2016 – let’s continued be inspired. To learn how to give more, to love greater, and to believe in the power of Virtue.

On Valentine’s day we see all the red flowers, cards, and a cycle of expectations and material things. While this is good in it’s own way, it isn’t the point and certainly not the only way to show love.

Love is beyond those pink ribbons, chocolate boxes, and post cards. While I give them myself, due to an expectation, we shouldn’t be required to.

Give flowers every month, chocolates every week. Give love everyday. Why not?

Why do we even have Valentine’s Day?

You can Thank Saint Valentine.

saint_valentine3

Saint Valentine was a Roman Priest during the reign of Emperor Claudias, who had persecuted members of the church at that particular time.

Claudias had enacted a law that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers – because married soldiers might be afraid to die if they had wives or families to go back to.

The legend claims that soldiers were sparse at the time so this was a big inconvenience to Emperor Claudias. Valentine also refused to sacrifice to the pagan roman gods, as Christ never commanded this.

Valentine lived in very harsh and critical times, and he had the courage to go against this confinement edict.

The church established that marriage was very sacred and believed that it was to be encouraged. This immediately presented a problem to the church about what to do.

The idea of encouraging people to marry, under God, was what Valentine was all about. And he secretly married them despite the edict law.

Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius the second.

One of the men who was to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind.

Valentine performed a miracle through God and Christ when he prayed with the daughter, and healed the young girl of blindness and sickness.

Because of this miracle, with such astonishing effect, the roman judge Asterius himself became a Christian as the result.

In the year of 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation.

The last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter, and then he signed it, “from your Valentine.”

Valentine was killed because he did the right thing, he believed in marriage, love, and that men have the right under god to be married and united.

Valentine has come to be known as the patron Saint of Lovers. Before you enter into a Christian marriage, it requires a priest to secure your vows, under God.
saint_valentine1To this day, White friars Street Church is one church that house the remains of Valentine. Today, many people make the pilgrimage to the church to honor the courage, and memory of this Christian Saint.

The 28th Today!

I have been on a course to renew my A+ Certification. Its easy for me, but hard finding the time to go through all the pretests when I work over 9 hours a day.

The 28th is a day where we are inspired, we are challenged to push for more right when the next month is going to take over. We want to expand our common interests, and capture the best in ourselves before it is too late.

The 28 is a second chance. A re-birth. A symbol of hope and dreams.

May you all reach higher, become smarter, and become all your maker wants you to be. Today will bring out the most challenge, and the best of your humanity.

God Bless this Day!

WTF is a Person Of Principle?

Wow this guy Ramsey McNabb is insane! This was interesting.

Usually, when someone is called a ‘person of principle’ it is meant as a compliment. For the most part, we take that phrase as applying to the ethical elite: those who lead highly moral lives, and never, or at least rarely, fail to follow their moral principles. A person of principle means someone who faithfully follows their principle or set of principles rather than abandoning them when convenient. If faced with a seemingly difficult decision in life, he or she will refer to his or her guiding set of principles and then merely deduce the correct action from it. If on rare occasions such principled people do not behave according to their principles, they would consider such actions to be moral mistakes on their part.

A Christian would certainly strive to be a person of principle. Such a person would live his or her life according to the moral guidelines set out in the Bible, especially for instance the Ten Commandments. Suppose Norbert, a Christian, really wants to get his son a wristwatch from the local department store, but cannot afford to pay for it. He is quite certain that he could steal the watch without being caught. To resolve his inner dispute, all he has to do is refer to his set of guiding principles, and he will recall that “Thou shalt not steal” applies. Norbert, being a man of principle, leaves the store disappointed, without the watch, but also without having violated his principle, and therefore without having acted immorally.

A committed utilitarian is also a person of principle. Suppose Amina is walking down the street, on her way to tutor a boy she knows so that he can pass his upcoming biology test. Suddenly she sees two children stumble into a crevasse left by last week’s earthquake. No one else is around, and it would probably take quite some time for her either to save the children herself, or call for help and wait for it to arrive. She is faced with a dilemma. She can go do her tutoring, and ignore the accident she just witnessed; or she can help the children and miss her tutoring commitment. Being a committed utilitarian, and therefore a person of principle, all she needs to do is consult her guiding principle: “Do whatever will bring about the greatest good for the greatest number.” That solves her problem, because saving the two trapped and wounded girls helps the people who are most in need, and it also helps the greater number of people.

A person who lives her life by Kant’s ethical theory would also be a person of principle. Suppose that Terra, a Kantian, finds a fifty-dollar bill on a football field, and she pockets it, because after looking carefully, she does not see anyone else around. Lucky for her, because she could sure use the money to buy her mom that ceramic pit bull terrier for Christmas. However, ten minutes later, Biff, the quarterback of the football team, comes over to the field and seems to be scouring the ground, as if he’s looking for something he lost. Terra quickly concludes that the money is probably his. Being a person of principle she consults Kant’s categorical imperative, which is her highest guiding principle: “Act only on that maxim which you can at the same time will to become a universal law.” She figures on that basis that anyone who finds money should be able to keep it if they don’t know to whom it belongs. But the case has changed, and she couldn’t possibly will that everyone should always keep the property of others just because they’ve briefly misplaced it. She returns the money to Biff, who promptly uses it to buy a ceramic football player for his father.

These are people of principle. They have beliefs and they are committed to living their lives according to those principles. They seem to be highly moral people who make excellent ethical choices. But watch where their principles take them…

Norbert the Christian is invited to go flying with his pilot friend Erica. They fly up north for about an hour, but then the engine gives out and Erica crash-lands the plane in a farmer’s field. Erica is trapped in the cockpit and begs for water. Norbert leaves her and runs to the nearby farmhouse. He knocks on the door but there is no answer. He notices a “NO TRESPASSING” sign. He also notices a hose attached to a tap on the side of the house. He could get water for Erica, but that would be stealing, since he has not been given permission by the owner. Norbert, being a person of principle, will not steal, no matter the case, so he fails to provide Erica with her much-needed water.

When our utilitarian, Amina, grows older, she becomes a doctor. A patient, Mr. Wiggles, comes to see her because he has sliced his finger badly. It’s only hanging on by a flap of skin. Mr. Wiggles would like Amina to repair his hand; but she has other ideas. She has four severely ill patients, who all need urgent transplants to survive their illnesses. The first needs a heart transplant; the second needs two new lungs; the third a bone marrow transplant; and the fourth needs a new liver. When she checks his medical files, Amina notices that Mr. Wiggles is a perfect match for all these patients. Amina sedates and slaughters him (against his will), and uses his organs to save the other patients. She manages to keep the entire procedure a secret from the public, and from everyone involved. She has brought about the greatest good for the greatest number of people. She has sacrificed one life, but saved four.

Our Kantian, Terra, sees a young girl run past frantically. The girl scurries underneath a nearby parked Honda Civic and hides. Moments later, a notorious escaped murderer comes onto the scene and inquires into the whereabouts of the girl. Terra thinks about Kant’s categorical imperative, and realizing that she could not universalize the maxim of her action if she were to lie, she decides to tell the truth, and thereafter the young girl is attacked and killed.

There is an exception to every rule, they say, and maybe they’re right, especially in ethics. Maybe being a person of principle isn’t such a good idea after all…

Dealing With The Exception

The exception is perhaps the greatest obstacle for any moral theory to deal with. You adopt a supposedly ideal moral system which should tell you what to do to act morally in any possible case: all you have to do is deduce the proper action from your principle or set of principles, then follow it. No problem. You’ll be doing the right thing, and acting without sin. But then you run into that odd, unexpected situation where following your rulebook doesn’t seem so neat and tidy. This new case is special, unique, and unanticipated by your ethical system. In fact, it just feels wrong to follow the rules here in this instance. Do you go with your rulebook, or your current intuition?

There are many who would step in and try to defend principled (rulebook style) ethics. They have three obvious defenses:

(1) Simply deny that apparent problems create exceptions.

(2) Hold the view that principles can be rewritten so that the apparent exceptions are no longer exceptions.

(3) Argue that each apparent exceptional case is really a case of conflicting principles, where two or more principles both apply, but one is overruled by another of greater priority.

The first defence holds that there are no exceptional cases. This means that when our current intuition clashes with the principle on which we base our moral system, we should follow our principle, no matter how wrong it might feel.

While this response avoids the problem of the exception, it pays a price that is far too high, often leading us to sacrifice the well-being of innocent people in service of a principle. This is highly counterintuitive and difficult to stomach. It also requires that we have one single overarching principle which defines our entire ethical system, since a plurality of principles would lead to situations where the principles conflict. But the notion that everything that matters morally can be summed up into one action-guiding principle is extremely questionable.

The second defence holds that when faced with an exceptional case, we should rewrite our principles so that the apparent exception is no longer an exception. So in Terra’s situation, where she must choose between lying and allowing an innocent person to be attacked, she might adjust her “do not lie” principle so that it becomes “do not lie unless you must do so to protect innocent people.” While this approach sounds perfectly reasonable, it completely undermines the authority of Terra’s moral principles. After all, if she can overrule and amend her principles whenever she sees fit, it is really Terra who is doing the moral work, and not her principles. Furthermore, as soon as Terra admits that her principles are open to adjustment, she has no assured principled method of determining in any new case whether it is time to follow her principle as it was, or whether it is time to rewrite it yet again.

The third approach would rank different principles in such a way that even though each principle matters, some matter more than others. So, for example, lying might always be a moral minus, but allowing an innocent person to be attacked could be a greater moral minus. Hence, lying, though itself wrong, is morally required in Terra’s case.

This might be the most plausible of the three defences of principles, but there are also drawbacks to taking this route. To know which principle wins out in cases where principles conflict, you would either have to rank all the principles on a hierarchy, or else leave it up to an individual to decide priority on a case-by-case basis. Ranking all moral principles would be a troublesome task, to say the least; but leaving it to be decided on a case-by-case basis seems to minimize the moral authority of principles and the guidance that they can provide, leaving a lot to individual judgement. Further, if there is a strict hierarchy, there will be a top deciding principle, which leads to the same problems as with the first defence.

Moral Particularism

The above three defenses all deserve substantial consideration – certainly more than can be devoted in this article – but in the end I believe that there is a fourth option, and that the fourth one is the best. It’s a theory which is steadily gaining momentum and strength in philosophical circles, even though it flies in the face of much of the history of moral philosophy.

Moral philosophy for the most part has historically been an attempt to find the right principles by which we should live our lives. Whether it is a set of divinely inspired commandments, Mill’s principle of utility, Kant’s categorical imperative, or some other principle(s), determining the proper course of action in any given situation has been thought to require little more than deducing from the right set of universal principles, and moral philosophy has, for the most part, been a search for that perfect set of principles. But I believe that moral judgement is not a matter of applying some overarching universal moral principles. In my view, it is quite the opposite. I propose instead that the moral knowledge we have is founded on particular cases, and that the principles we have are mere generalizations from those cases. Thus, our fourth option when faced with exceptional moral cases is: Allow our particular moral judgements to simply override our principles, thereby invalidating those principles.

This approach lands me among those who propose a theory known as moral particularism. The moral particularist holds that the traditional approach to ethical theory is not the best. Rather than deducing the right action from some principle or set of principles, the particularist holds that moral judgement can get along just fine without any dependence on principles.

Imagine that you see a young girl crash her bicycle. She is knocked unconscious, and lying on a set of railway tracks only a dozen steps or so from you. In the distance, you see a train approaching, although it’s still thirty seconds from reaching the girl. What goes through your mind? Do you do a quick mental survey of your moral principles and attempt to apply them to the situation so that you can deduce what the right thing to do might be? Do you compare your two options – saving her and watching her die – and then apply the categorical imperative or the principle of utility to see which action your principle recommends? Or does it occur to you immediately that you should help her, without any application of principles? The moral particularist thinks that you do not need to apply a moral principle to conclude that you should help her. For the particularist, moral knowledge starts in clear-cut cases like this. If you know anything at all with regard to morality, you certainly know you ought to help the girl. You know you should help her even if you do not know any greater universal principles like the categorical imperative or the principle of utility.

W.H. Gass makes a similar point about clear cases: “When we try to explain why they are instances of good or bad, of right or wrong, we sound comic, as anyone does who gives elaborate reasons for the obvious, especially when these reasons are so shamefaced before reality, so miserably beside the point.” (W.H. Gass, ‘The Case of the Obliging Stranger’, The Philosophical Review, Vol. 66, No.2, 1957, p.196.) If the particularist is pressed to explain why you should help the young girl on the railway tracks, then rather than appealing to some overarching impersonal principle, the particularist will reply with particular reasons, for example: “The girl will die if you do nothing,” or “Because she’s about to get crushed,” or “Her family will be devastated,” or “Wouldn’t you want to be saved if you were in her shoes?”

So the particularist has a different interpretation of the relationship between particular cases and moral principles. Exceptional cases do not trouble particularists, since principles are mere generalizations from cases anyway. For the particularists, principles are, at best, helpful moral crutches. We can fall back on them when we are unable to properly examine the details of a specific case, or when our judgement is impaired or untrustworthy, or when we do not have enough information to fully understand what makes a particular case unique. But it should be made clear that for particularists, moral principles are tools that exist only to serve and help us, and they should be ignored or modified when they don’t. On the contrary, for universalists (believers in universal principles), our moral competence depends on how well we serve universal principles. Yet there is something strange about the notion that morality is ultimately a matter of applying impersonal moral principles to particular cases – morality becomes a matter of calculation rather than care. M.U. Walker makes a similar point: “Even as the theories tell us how to live they defeat or defy motives of attachment to particular people that give us reasons to live or allow us to live well.” (M.U. Walker, Moral Understandings: A Feminist Study in Ethics, Routledge, 1998, pp.30-31.)

If you are not yet convinced, imagine that someone asks you to justify the commonly-accepted principle that murder is wrong. How would you do it? If you are inclined to respond by giving examples of how terrible murders can be, then you are agreeing with the particularists, since you would be using particular cases to justify principles, and thereby treating principles as derivative. Yet justifying moral principles without appealing to specific cases seems almost impossible. As R.W. Krutzen writes, “One could not know ‘the deliberate, intentional killing of innocent persons is wrong’ if one did not know ‘the deliberate, intentional killing of this innocent person is wrong’.” (R.W. Krutzen, ‘In Defence of Common Moral Sense’ Dialogue 38, 1999, p.259.)

Other Arguments For Particularism

Jonathan Dancy, author of Ethics Without Principles, is most likely the leading proponent of moral particularism. He argues for what he calls reasons holism, which holds that a certain factor can constitute a reason in favour of doing an action in one situation, while constituting a reason against doing that same action in another situation. For example, the fact that “a lot of people will be there” is sometimes a good reason to avoid a place; but it is also sometimes a good reason to go to that place. If you want peace and quiet, it will be a reason against, but if you want to be involved in the festivities, it will be a reason for. Dancy claims that this sort of holism is generally accepted outside of the realm of morality, but is not at all popular in the realm of morality, where many philosophers assume that a moral factor must make the same sort of difference wherever it occurs. Dancy challenges that assumption, and argues that there is no clear distinction between moral reasons and other reasons. Reasons holism works just as well in morality, he thinks. For example, the fact that an action will cause inconvenience to someone is usually a reason not to do it. It would be wrong, for example, to trip up an elderly man who is taking his Sunday stroll to the neighbourhood church. However, if a child-molesting kidnapper is running down the street with a child in his arms, the tripping-up action’s status as inconvenience-causing is a reason in favour of doing it! According to Dancy, if reasons do not function the same way in all cases, then universal moral principles cannot be the foundation of moral thought.

Other particularists rely on Wittgenstein to strengthen their position. Following Wittgenstein’s concept of family resemblances, they argue that it is possible to acquire a concept through experience even if there is no ‘essence’ to the concept, or any clear definition of the concept. Wittgenstein argues, for example, that there is no essential definition available for the concept of games. Some games involve running, but not all games. Most games involve competition, but not all do, because many games are played individually. Also, there are some things that involve running and competition that are not games. So it is thought by Wittgenstein that games share similarities, as members of families do, but that there is no one key ingredient which defines the essence of games. Nevertheless, we regularly use the concept and language of ‘games’, and we do so with little difficulty. Some moral particularists want to say that moral concepts, like right and wrong, are similar to such concepts, in the sense that they have no single essence, but they can be used and understood anyway.

Conclusion

There is certainly much more to be said about moral particularism, both for it and against it, and this discussion has barely scratched the surface. I don’t expect that every reader will immediately agree that moral principles are unnecessary. That would be unrealistic, since moral philosophy itself is (still) often seen as the search for the right set of universal principles. I do, however, hope I have cast doubt on the universalist position, and have offered particularism as a theoretical competitor. We should at least not just assume that moral thought is a top-down affair, in which proper moral action is deduced from higher moral principles. We should at least acknowledge and consider the possibility that it might be the other way around – that moral thought is a bottom-up affair, in which the building blocks of moral knowledge are the clear particular moral cases, and that moral principles are inductive derivations from those cases. There are many important ongoing battles which characterize what philosophy is all about, for example empiricism vs. rationalism, freedom vs. determinism, and Cartesian dualism vs. eliminative materialism. I suggest that the moral particularism vs. moral universalism debate should take its rightful place as one of philosophy’s greatest battles.

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