- Created by: emily_clark07
- Created on: 10-11-19 12:47
What is Naturalism?
- Popularity grew during the 19th Century
- Concerned with the meaning of ethical language
- Ethical words such as 'good' or 'bad' can be found in the empirical world and nature (in our independent reality)
- Results in moral realism- 'the metaethical view that there exist moral facts'
- Ethical statements can have an objective reality
- 'Good' can be: Moral judgments are uniform and universal as they are grounding in the objective truth of the world around us through cognitivist observation
- independent from human opinion
- verified or falsified depending on left emotions (similarly to science)
- intrinsic to certain items/ actions
- Moral judgments are uniform and universal as they are grounding in the objective truth of the world around us through cognitivist observation
- A metaphysical theory- an examination of the true nature of reality
- Ethical statements can be translated into verified factual statements
- e.g. 'Stalin was an evil man'
- This can be proved true because by looking at his actions we can determine that he was evil
- Francis Herbert Bradley (1846-1924) was a British idealist philosopher who attended Oxford and was elected to a fellowship at Merton College
- His books, 'Ethical Studies' (1876) and 'My Station and its Duties', contributed to the theory of ethical naturalism as he openly rejected Utilitarianism and Kantian Ethics
- "Ethical Statements must be proved true or false"
- Morality rests through "self-realisation, duty and happiness in one" as we live under our society's moral traditions
- Ethical properties "when we have found our station and its duties, our function is as an organ in a social organism"
- Our role in society is to recognise our true self by adopting our community's values
- Moral judgments involve a reference to what is real in the empirical world
- Through cognitivism, we can objectively test moral statements
- e.g. 'Honesty is good' actually means 'honesty can help me realise my true potential and place in society'
- Ethical statements express facts about the world, our position in society, and our moral duty
- Words such as 'good' or 'bad' rest on certain prepositions (a statement or assertion that expresses a judgment) that can be presented as true or false
Other Supporters of Naturalism
T. H. Green (1836-1882 English Philosopher and Idealist), and Mary Warnock (English Philosopher)
- Similarly to Bradley, was influenced by G. W. F. Hegel
- Looked into the obligation of roles that constitutes our identities
- Looked at morality
- Stated that we have a "definite place in society"
Broad (20th Century Epistemologist, Naturalist, and historian of moral philosophy)
- "If naturalism be true, ethics is not an autonomous science; it is a department or an application of one or more of the natural historical sciences"
- Moral facts are facts of nature
- "If something is claimed to exist but is not described in the vocabulary that describes natural phenomena, it is not something we should describe as real"
- All actions can be judged naturally as the only thing that matters is 'natural order' which can have a universal application
Hume's Law (Criticism)
- David Hume (1711-1776, Age of Enlightenment, and a criticism of many ethical debates)
- 'A Treatise of Human Nature' and the 'Is/ Ought' problem
- What we observe in the natural world (facts/ is statements) give us a picture of what the world is like
- However, we cannot infer what the world ought to be like
- There are numerous facts about the world, used to conclude what we ought or ought not to do
- The error is that there is nothing in the premises that necessitates the conclusion
- Ought is prescriptive and comes from our feelings
- It is not a moral fact
Other Criticisms of Naturalism
G.E. Moore (1873-1958 and an Intuitionist)
- In 'Principa Ethica', Moore claimed that there is an error in defining an ethical property in the same way as a natural one
- Good, like yellow, is 'sui generis' (unique) and cannot be broken down into constituent parts for definition
- We may define a horse according to its four legs, mane and hooves, but this cannot be done for defining goodness as happiness, virtue or natural
- Ethical naturalists conflate natural and moral properties and by using a non-moral premise to establish a moral conclusion is an error or fallacy
- e.g. 'a baby is born, I feel happy, so I state that we ought to have more babies'
The Open Question Argument
- A closed question can be settled easily with defining terms but in an open question one cannot
- In an open question, the answer cannot be deduced from the premise
- Attempts to conflate morality with a natural property will always produce an open question, but a definition should produce a closed question
- e.g. Premise: 'What is natural is good?', Open Question: 'Yes, but is it good?'