Breathing life into a dead argument: G.e. Moore and the open question [Book Review]

Philosophical Studies 117 (3):395-408 (2004)
Abstract
A century after its publication, G.E. Moore''sPrincipia Ethica stands as one of theclassic statements of anti-naturalism inethics. Moore claimed that the most basic ethicalproperties were denoted by `good'' and `bad'' andthat all naturalist accounts of thoseproperties were inadequate. His open-questionargument aimed to refute any proposedidentification of good with some naturalproperty, and Moore concluded from theargument that good must be a nonnaturalproperty.The received view is that the open-questionargument is a failure. In this paper,my aim is to breathe some life back intoMoore''s argument. My plan for doing so beginsby presenting the standard interpretation ofthe argument and then showing that there isan alternative to that interpretation. Thealternative is not developed at any length byMoore and stands in need of some elaboration. Isuggest a way of elaborating theargument and then show that the standardcriticisms of Moore fail to undermine thisalternative version of the open-questionargument.
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