Arnold's case against principles extend to normative ones. Such principles infringe the root and branch utilitarianism that appears to be Arnold’s sole guide to action. Making things worse, normative principles commonly contradict one another, and so only add to the difficulty of implementing ‘practical’ solutions. The upshot was that the 'method of principles' corners radicals in a struggle for an impossible Utopia, paralyses conservatives with Ideology (in Mannheim’s sense), and leaves economists and lawyers ‘preaching’ rather than giving ‘practical advice’.
Will an adjudication, then, award all to Villey? I do not think so. The relativism of Villey's notion of doctrine quavers precariously on the edge of subjectivism. All perspectives are equally valid, suggestsVilley, and the literal visual usage of the term is corroborating. But, to pursue that usage, are not some vistas more comprehending than others? And if it is replied that doctrine cannot reach a perfectly general outlook, but must remain in some measure personal, where lies the cognitive value of that personal aspect? Perspectives express our selves, suggest Villey. But if they only express our selves, are they anything more than 'personal style'? There is surely more 'news' in doctrine than that. But news of what? News of ourselves. Philosophers - in Villey's account- have sought to understand the world, but have only succeeded in understanding of themselves.