Ethical Naturalism

includes advantages and types of Naturalism 

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Abena
  • Created on: 14-03-13 14:19


  • Naturalism is a meta ethical approach that incorperates new scientific knowledge that began emerging during the 17th Century
  • Ethical terms can be defined using 'Natural' terms used in science and mathmatics.
  • Ethical statements are the same as non-ethical (natural) statements
  • ethical statements are cognitive since they can be verfied and falsified
  • e.g. 'Thomas More - executed for his beliefs in1535' and 'Thomas More was a good man' both can be proven true or false; both are cognitive statements
1 of 5

Theological Naturalist

  • Thological naturalist (Thomas Aquinas) 
  • God's will defines morality 
  • goodness is linked to the will of God as seen in nature
  • e.g. 'murder is wrong' becuase God commands against murder (10 commandments 'Thou shalt not kill'/ 'You shall not murder') 
2 of 5

Hedonistic Naturalist

  • Hedonistic Naturalism (R. B. Perry)
  • goodness is a fact of pleasure or happiness
  • R. B. Perry - 'good' means being an object of favourable interest', 'right' means being conductive to harmonious happines
  • 'x' is good ='x' is an object of favourable intereset', 'y' is right = 'y' is conductive to harmonious happiness
3 of 5

Naturalist - F. H. Bradley

  • wrote Ethical Studies (1876)
  • a moral perspective is determined from 'self-relisation' and 'observing one's posiion in society'
  • rejected hedonism as pleasures provide no final self-understanding  
  • rejected Kants idea of duty for the sake of dutyas it doesn't guide us in morality or give us 'human satisfacation'
  • better approach would be to persue self-relisation within the community
  • Our place/role in community provides a satifying life 
  • 'We must realise our true self' - learnt through family and community
  • this places us firmly in the Universe 
  • To be a good person we must know our station and its duties
  • once your position in life is decided, you have a duty to perform the function of that station 
4 of 5

Criticisms of Naturalism

  • G. E. Moore (Principa Ethica) 'The attempt to identify goodness with a natural qaulity is a mistake'
    • 'To claim that moral statements can be verified or falsified using evidence it to commit the naturalistic fallacy
    • More used what has become known as the Open question arguement
    • For any natural property it always makes sense to ask 'is it good?'
    • Shows that 'good' and 'bad' cannot be the names of natural properties in the way that 'rough' and 'smooth' are
    • He based his arguement on David Hume's 'You cannot derive an ought from an is'
  • ethical naturalism does not allow for moral dispute 
  • it is too simplistic '
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Ethics resources:

See all Ethics resources »