David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 28 (2):239 – 254 (2003)
This paper examines the role played by the concept of human nature in ethical theory. The focus is on the epistemological problems that arise from application of this notion to the foundation of ethics. From this viewpoint, two theories, the neoscholastic and the neoclassical ones, are expounded, analyzed and compared. The aim is to highlight their opposite ways of relating the "ought-to-be" (of norms) to the "is" (of human nature). The conclusion is drawn that an adequate solution of the dispute depends on a correct interpretation of Hume's law. Reflection is conducted in the last section on the implications of metaethical discourse on human nature for applied ethics.
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