Is there a naturalistic fallacy?

More than a century ago, G. E. Moore famously offered his own version of nonnaturalism in opposition to what are, in effect, analytic versions of reductive naturalism in ethics. Although Moore himself did not clearly distinguish the analysis of predicates from that of properties, he plainly denied that the evaluative predicate, good , could be analyzed in terms of any purely descriptive predicate, and took this to show that the property of goodness could not be identical to any natural property or properties. In support of this, he offered an extended inference, which begins with the so−called open question argument (hereafter, OQA ') and concludes that any such attempted analysis would commit a naturalistic fallacy.' There is now consensus that this extended inference faces a number of problems. Not only does it conflate properties and predicates, it also rests on a notion of philosophical analysis that is at best paradoxical. Moreover, it misconstrues ethical naturalism, taking it to consist in a single reductivist program. Here we propose a Moore−inspired, yet more modest, extended inference that we think can at once avoid these shortcomings and also show that evaluative predicates are not analyzable into purely descriptive predicates. Given our inference, any attempt at such an analysis would commit the naturalistic fallacy, for it would sanction a semantic equivalence between predicates that is at least debatable − for example, between good' and pleasure−maximizing.' The objection is leveled, not against metaphysical varieties of reductive naturalism, but only against semantic versions of this position.
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