Dreams and Formulas: The Roles of Particularism and Principlism in the Law

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The term “particularism” is encountered only rarely in the law. The basic idea of particularism itself is, however, of great importance in the law. Particularism is, helpfully, much more prominent in contemporary moral philosophy. The opposite of particularism, in moral philosophy and in law, is usually taken to be “generalism” or “principlism.” For the moment, we may think of particularism in the law as strongly de-emphasizing the roles of principles, rules, standards, policies, and tests. More positively, we may think of particularism in the law as instead emphasizing vivid and concrete analogies, hypotheticals, stories, images, instructive fables, parables, particular incidents, legends and myths, dreams, and similar sorts of narratives.

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