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Flashcards in Naturalism Deck (10)
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Outline Mill's Naturalism

Mill claims that an action is good if it promotes maximum happiness. Happiness is a natural property - therefore, so is goodness.


Explain Foot's naturalism

Foot claims that morality is constrained by facts about human wellbeing.

'Good' has a commending function, so it has a limited definition.

Only that which is genuinely commendable is good - and we can know what is genuinely commendable by appealing to objective facts about human wellbeing.


Why does Foot's analogy with danger fail?

We have a clear definition of danger, but not such a clear definition of 'commendation'. While it may be the case that we commend that which we label good, it is also the case that flourishing is a concept determined by the relative viewpoints of individuals and societies.


What is the primary critique of naturalism?

The naturalistic fallacy and open question argument.


Explain the naturalistic fallacy

G.E Moore claimed that goodness is a simple, unanalysable property - it cannot, therefore, be reduced any further. Analogously, attempts to define the colour yellow in terms of yellow objects will inevitably provide an inadequate definition. Therefore, goodness cannot be a natural property.


Outline the open question argument

If goodness is happiness, it would not make sense to ask 'is happiness good', because it would be an empty tautology. But it is an open question. We can coherently ask 'is x good'? This suggests that goodness cannot be reduced to any other property.


What is the response to the naturalistic fallacy?

Meaning/reference distinction


In what way does the meaning/reference distinction discredit the OQA?

It is an open question to ask 'is water h2o?'. If the open question argument were valid, this question would imply that water could not be identical to h2o. But we know that water is h2o - so the open question argument is unsound?


Explain how 'is water h2o?' can be an open question.

Moore was seduced by the referential theory of meaning, which ties meaning to reference.

The meaning of water is different to the meaning of h2o - the meaning of a word is not the same as the referent.

All the OQA shows is that good does not mean the same thing as happiness. But this does not show that moral terms do not refer to natural properties.


What is moral naturalism?

Moral naturalists assert that there are objective moral facts and properties, and that these moral facts and properties are reducible to natural facts.