Elevating Human Being: Towards a New Sort of Naturalism

Philosophy 92 (4):597-622 (2017)
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Abstract

Defended by scholars such as John McDowell and Julia Annas, the naturalism of second nature (NSN) claims that the virtues are part of a rational second nature in- stilled through moral education. While NSN emphasizes that rationality, fully devel- oped, results in autonomy from nature, it is considered a sort of naturalism because the development of rational second nature unfolds through entirely natural processes. Critics object that NSN does not utilize human nature as a standard of evaluation, which is a problem for a view that claims to be a sort of naturalism. This paper at- tempts to meet this charge by introducing a novel way to understand the normative significance of human nature. It argues that NSN supports an analysis of human nature as the raw material of the virtues and, as such, the basis of a kind of aesthetic evaluation. Specifically, human nature is the basis of humaneness, a kind of beauty that belongs to what elevates or refines human nature. Thus, according to the fortified naturalism of second nature the ethical significance of human nature is explained by recognizing how the virtues exemplify a kind of beauty that only humans can have.

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Irene Liu
Le Moyne College

Citations of this work

The Limits of Aristotelian Naturalism.Irene Liu - 2018 - Journal of Value Inquiry 52 (3):269-286.
Ethical pluralism and the appeal to human nature.Irene Liu - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (3):1103-1119.

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References found in this work

Modern Moral Philosophy.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (124):1 - 19.
Mind and World.Huw Price & John McDowell - 1994 - Philosophical Books 38 (3):169-181.
The Sovereignty of Good.Iris Murdoch - 1971 - Philosophy 47 (180):178-180.
Everyday aesthetics.Yuriko Saito - 2001 - Philosophy and Literature 25 (1):87-95.

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