Parisa Moosavi
York University
Neo‐Aristotelian ethical naturalism purports to show that moral evaluation of human action and character is an evaluation of natural goodness—a kind of evaluation that applies to living things in virtue of their nature and based on their form of life. The standard neo‐Aristotelian view defines natural goodness by way of generic statements describing the natural history, or the ‘characteristic’ life, of a species. In this paper, I argue that this conception of natural goodness commits the neo‐Aristotelian view to a problematic anti‐individualism that results in the wrong assessment of individuals with uniquely adaptive adjustments. I then offer an alternative account of natural goodness that avoids this problem. Instead of relying on generic statements about a species, my account defines natural goodness based on counterfactual conditionals describing the modal properties of a single individual. I argue that this modal‐explanatory account gives a conception of natural goodness that is more intuitively plausible and better suited to capture the diversity and plasticity distinctive of life.
Keywords individualism  invariance  natural goodness  natural history  neo-Aristotelian naturalism  teleological explanation
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2022
DOI 10.1111/phpr.12751
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

In Defense of Proper Functions.Ruth Garrett Millikan - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (June):288-302.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Is Aristotelian Naturalism Safe From the Moral Outsider?Gennady McCracken - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (5):1123-1137.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Species Concepts and Natural Goodness.Judith K. Crane & Ronald Sandler - 2011 - In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints: Natural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science. MIT Press. pp. 289.
Natural, Artifactual, and Moral Goodness.Judith K. Crane & Ronald Sandler - 2017 - The Journal of Ethics 21 (3):291-307.
Philippa Foot’s So-Called Achilles’ Heel.Jessy Jordan - 2017 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 91 (2):251-271.
Philippa Foot’s Theory of Natural Goodness.Sanford S. Levy - 2009 - Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 14 (1):1-15.
Scientific Proof of the Natural Moral Law.Eric Brown - 2005 - Dissertation, The Catholic University of America
Practically Self-Conscious Life.Matthias Haase - 2018 - In Micah Lott (ed.), Philippa Foot on Goodness and Virtue. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 85-126.


Added to PP index

Total views
363 ( #28,181 of 2,507,562 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
117 ( #5,985 of 2,507,562 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes