The Prospects of a Naturalist Theory of Goodness: A Neo-Aristotelian Approach

Florida Philosophical Review 13 (1):29-39 (2013)

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Jeff Steele
Santa Clara University
Abstract
Ethical non-naturalists posit a sui generis realm of moral and evaluative properties, while ethical naturalists identify moral and evaluative properties with natural or descriptive properties. First, I explore the standard arguments in favor of an ethical non-naturalist account of goodness, specifically the open-question argument. Then, I examine Philippa Foot’s criticism of the open-question argument and her alternative neo-Aristotelian theory of goodness. Foot’s account, I argue, is vulnerable to a revised version of the open-question argument. Finally, I suggest two ways that Foot can escape the revised open-question argument: Either via a classical naturalist account, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, that identifies goodness with the fulfillment of a thing’s function, or by characterizing her account as a version of non-reductive naturalism akin to non-reductive physicalism in philosophy of mind. In either case, I argue that Foot’s neo-Aristotelian naturalism is preferable to ethical non-naturalism concerning the property of goodness.
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Good and Evil.Peter Geach - 1956 - Analysis 17 (2):33 - 42.

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