Ethical Naturalism Exam Questions

  • Created by: Elena.S
  • Created on: 19-03-17 12:00

What is ethical naturalism? (3)

  • cognitive moral realism
  • reductionist: things in one domain = things in another
  • meanings of ethical sentences can be expressed as natural properties without using ethical terms i.e good, right etc
1 of 5

Utilitarianism as ethical naturalism (5)

  • good = happiness; act is right or wrong depending on whether it brings happiness or not; happiness is natural/psychological property therefore rightness/goodness is natural property
2 of 5

Criticisms of utilitarianism as ethical naturalism

1) how can we prove it?

  • no proof that happiness (or any other natural property) is goodness

2) empirical reasoning

  • science can show if someone is happy but not that that is good

3) deduction

  • conceptual analysis of "happiness" doesn't establish it's good
3 of 5

Mill's proof of utilitarianism (5)

P1 - if someone desires something, it is desirable
P2 - people desire happiness + happiness is desirable
C - we all desire happiness + happiness of all is goal of morality


P1 - Mill argues happiness is desired + infers that happiness is good
P2 - this only works if what is desired is good

4 of 5

Criticisms of Mill's proof (12)

1) naturalistic fallacy
2) is what is desired always desirable?
3) Hume: is-ought gap
4) Sidgwick: fallacy of composition (just bc parts of something share a common feature ≠ whole has common feature - indiv. desires don't make overarching desire - indiv. happiness is own good but general happiness isn't the good)
5) erodes autonomy of ethics to exist in ordinary world
6) how can we say that moral properties are "just" identical to natural ones? Which normative ethical theory is good in its definition of good?
7) no proof through empirical data

5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Philosophy resources:

See all Philosophy resources »See all Morality resources »