Anonymous asked in Social ScienceGender & Women's Studies · 7 years ago

can you explain the naturalistic fallacy in relation to gender- i do not understand it?

naturalistic fallacy, Fallacy of treating the term “good” (or any equivalent term) as if it were the name of a natural property. In 1903 G.E. Moore presented in Principia Ethica his “open-question argument” against what he called the naturalistic fallacy, with the aim of proving that “good” is the name of a simple, unanalyzable quality, incapable of being defined in terms of some natural quality of the world, whether it be “pleasurable” (John Stuart Mill) or “highly evolved” (Herbert Spencer). Since Moore’s argument applied to any attempt to define good in terms of something else, including something supernatural such as “what God wills,” the term “naturalistic fallacy” is not apt. The open-question argument turns any proposed definition of good into a question (e.g., “Good means pleasurable” becomes “Is everything pleasurable good?”)—Moore’s point being that the proposed definition cannot be correct, because if it were the question would be meaningless.

Naturalistic fallacy

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In philosophical ethics, the naturalistic fallacy was introduced by British philosopher G. E. Moore in his 1903 book Principia Ethica. Moore argues it would be fallacious to explain that which is good reductively, in terms of natural properties such as "pleasant" or "desirable".

The naturalistic fallacy is close to but not identical with the fallacious appeal to nature, the claim that what is natural is inherently good or right, and that what is unnatural is inherently bad or wrong. The fallacious appeal to nature would be the reverse of a moralistic fallacy: that what is good or right is thus natural.

Furthermore, Moore's naturalistic fallacy is very close to (and even confused with) the is–ought problem, which comes from Hume's Treatise. However, unlike Hume's view of the is–ought problem, Moore (and other proponents of ethical non-naturalism) did not consider the naturalistic fallacy to be at odds with moral realism.


bob - you made me laugh - thanks...

2 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    The problem with the word "natural" when used to explain social interaction and cultural trends, is the inevitable result, which is to insert ourselves and our point of view, in the middle of it.

    I could say that it is "natural" to eat with a spoon and fork. How else are you going to consume that tomato bisque, and pasta?

    Well sorry I have bad news because somebody from China would disagree with me. It is natural for YOU AND I to eat with a spoon and fork. But this is a learned behavior.

    I mean that is a crude example. But when we start in on more complex issues of how men and women move socially within a larger cultural framework, we really need to get away from concepts of what is "natural" because perception is subjective and based on our own experiences, and not on some innate prototype.

    The other thing is that there is a certain ego-gratification there. In essence I am saying that my own view of the world is "natural" therefore that makes me correct. I am right because I look around myself and the world corroborates my viewpoint. Basically an echo-chamber in my own mind.

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  • Oblio
    Lv 6
    7 years ago

    The most important question in philosophy is "as compared to what?"

    Without having a standard it is impossible to determine the preferability of propositions such as these. Is it good for me to eat steak tonight? As compared to rice, yes.

    With respect to sex, you could ask whether men are better than women and some people will say yes (or yes to the reverse), usually without a standard given, but if prodded you can get a standard out of them ("men are stronger") and by that standard you can determine that men are indeed preferable to women. Of course we see that this is a stupid standard by which to measure the relative worth of either gender. Assuming there were some more meaningful standard hypothetically we could have some kind of objective way of going about this (but for what reason?)

    As for the is-ought problem, that may not be an issue considering the performative contradiction in arguing for there being an is-ought problem (you _ought_ not say you can derive an ought from an is).

    Happy philosophizing!

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