The thesis of this essay is that human relationships are deeper than moral principles or moral rules human relationships generate and fashion moral principles. This thesis has three elements: (1) moral principles have their provenance in human relationships and are intelligible only in their application to the relevant human relationship; (2) relationships determine what counts as a violation of a principle and so determine if a principle is violated or even applies; (3) relationships inform our understanding of the specific demands of principles. The thesis of this essay is supported by advancing each of its three elements. It is acknowledged that it can be argued that moral rules must in some way be accommodated by moral philosophy and that they play a role in our moral lives. Several claims about moral rules that are compatible with the thesis of this article are identified, such as the claim that moral rules are universal and the claim that they are not. Cogent views about the importance of relationships for morality, developed in feminist thought, are acknowledged but distinguished from this essay’s thesis.


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pp. 1-23
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