Have Elephant Seals Refuted Aristotle? Nature, Function, and Moral Goodness

Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (3):353-375 (2012)
Abstract
An influential strand of neo-Aristotelianism, represented by writers such as Philippa Foot, holds that moral virtue is a form of natural goodness in human beings, analogous to deep roots in oak trees or keen vision in hawks. Critics, however, have argued that such a view cannot get off the ground, because the neo-Aristotelian account of natural normativity is untenable in light of a Darwinian account of living things. This criticism has been developed most fully by William Fitzpatrick in his book Teleology and the Norms of Nature . In this paper, I defend the neo-Aristotelian account of natural normativity, focusing on Fitzpatrick's arguments. I argue that a natural goodness view is not impugned by an evolutionary account. Nor can neo-Aristotelian life form judgments be replaced by an evolutionary view of living things
Keywords biological function   Thompson   Fitzpatrick   natural goodness   moral goodness   Foot
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