Jonathan Dancy

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Jonathan Dancy
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|birth_place = |death_date = |death_place =Analytic philosophy>AnalyticMorality>Moral theory|notable_ideas = Moral particularism|influences = W. D. Ross, John McDowell, David Wiggins|influenced = Constantine Sandis|signature = }}Jonathan Peter Dancy, FBA (born 8 May 1946) is a British philosopher, who has written on ethics and epistemology. He is currently Professor of Philosophy at University of Texas at Austin and Research Professor at the University of Reading. He taught previously for many years at the University of Keele.

Education and career

Dancy was educated at Winchester College, where he was Head Boy and played cricket for the school, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he obtained a double first in classics (1965–7: Classical Honour Moderations: First Class Honours; 1967–9: Literae Humaniores: First Class Honours, BA).WEB,weblink Jonathan Dancy, 16 January 2015, After graduating he served as a lecturer at Pembroke College, Oxford for a year. In 1971 he became a lecturer at Keele University, becoming professor there in 1991.After being mentioned by his daughter-in-law, American actress Claire Danes, during an appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Dancy appeared as a guest on the program on 1 April 2010weblink was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2016.WEB,weblink British Academy announces new President and elects 66 new Fellows, 15 Jul 2016,

Philosophical work

After having worked on problems of epistemology, and more particularly on the nature of perception (argument from illusion), he emerged as the leading proponent in ethics of moral particularism, the idea that all moral reasons are particular and context-sensitive, rather than general. He also defends what he calls the holism of reasons, namely the idea that a consideration that is a reason for acting in a certain way in one case may not be a reason for acting in that way, or even a reason for not acting in that way, in other cases. In this sense, reasons are context-dependent. Dancy argues that the holism of reasons provides a major support for the main claim of his particularism, i.e., that there are no moral principles but that morality can get on perfectly well without them. Dancy edited some of George Berkeley's writingsSilvia Parigi. Berkeley Bibliography (1979-2010) and dedicated a book to the Anglo-Irish thinker.

Personal life

In 1973 he married Sarah Birley; they have three children: the actor Hugh Dancy (husband of actress Claire Danes); Jack Dancy, who runs a travel company; and Kate Redmanweblink who works for UNESCO.

Selected publications


  • "On Moral Properties", Mind, 1981, XC, pp. 367–385.
  • “Ethical Particularism and Morally Relevant Properties.” Mind, n.s.; 92, 368 (Oct., 1983): 530 – 547.
  • “The Role of Imaginary Cases in Ethics.” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 66 (1985): 141 – 153.
  • “An Ethic of Prima Facie Duties.” In A Companion to Ethics, ed. Peter Singer. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1991. 219 – 229.
  • “Can a Particularist Learn the Difference Between Right and Wrong?” In The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy, vol. 1, ed. K. Brinkmann. Bowling Green, OH: Philosophy Documentation Center, 1999. 59 – 72.
  • JOURNAL, Intention and permissibility: Jonathan Dancy, Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume, 74, 1, 319–338, 10.1111/1467-8349.00074, July 2000, harv, Dancy, Jonathan,

See also: JOURNAL, Scanlon, T.M., T. M. Scanlon, Intention and permissibility: T. M. Scanlon, Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume, 74, 1, 301–317, 10.1111/1467-8349.00073, July 2000, harv, Pdf.
  • “The Particularist’s Progress.” In Moral Particularism, ed. Brad Hooker and Margaret Olivia Little. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000. 130 – 156.
  • "Moral Particularism" in the Stanford Online Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Books (author)

  • An Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology, Oxford: Blackwell, 1985.
  • Berkeley: An Introduction, Oxford: Blackwell, 1987.
  • Moral Reasons, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1993.
  • Practical Reality, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Ethics Without Principles. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004.
  • Practical Shape. A Theory of Practical Reasoning, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Books (editor)

  • Perceptual Knowledge, Oxford: OUP, 1988.
  • Reading Parfit, Oxford : Blackwell,1997.
  • Normativity (Ratio conference 1998) Oxford : Blackwell, 2000.
  • Philosophy of Action: An Anthology (with Constantine Sandis) Oxford : Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.



External links

{{FBA 2016|state=expanded}}{{Authority control}}

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