Synthese 194 (4):1031-1055 (2017)

Jay Odenbaugh
Lewis & Clark College
Foot , Hursthouse , and Thompson , along with other philosophers, have argued for a metaethical position, the natural goodness approach, that claims moral judgments are, or are on a par with, teleological claims made in the biological sciences. Specifically, an organism’s flourishing is characterized by how well they function as specified by the species to which they belong. In this essay, I first sketch the Neo-Aristotelian natural goodness approach. Second, I argue that critics who claim that this sort of approach is inconsistent with evolutionary biology due to its species essentialism are incorrect. Third, I contend that combining the natural goodness account of natural-historical judgments with our best account of natural normativity, the selected effects theory of function, leads to implausible moral judgments. This is so if selected effects function are understood in terms of evolution by natural selection, but also if they are characterized in terms of cultural evolution. Thus, I conclude that proponents of the natural goodness approach must either embrace non-naturalistic vitalism or troubling moral revisionism
Keywords Evolutionary theory  Gene-culture coevolution  Ethics  Metaethics  Teleology  Normativity  Natural goodness  Neo-Aristotelianism  Function
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0675-7
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Natural Goodness Without Natural History.Parisa Moosavi - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

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