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The Naturalistic Fallacy

George Edward Moore in his book Principia Ethica observed that ethics could be viewed from a three-fold perspective, which seeks to respond to three questions. Firstly, when individuals are committed to dissect ethics and understand the relevant approaches that can be used to improve outcomes, they tend to question the definition of good. In this regard, understanding the definition of good and the related aspects that define this component presents an interesting scenario, which enhances the thought process of individuals and their ability to accomplish desired goals. Secondly, the analysis of ethics compels people to focus on the things that are bad or good, and how they influence their perspectives towards life. However, naturalism falls short when it limits individuals to naturalism, which requires one to define value using natural attributes.

Before proceeding to the third question, Moore expected individuals to have understood the other two questions to benefit from the insights associated with the naturalistic fallacy. From this realization, the third question requires people to explore the benefits of good when used as a means of solving underlying issues and emerging problems. It should be noted that the third question compels individuals to explore the alternative best approaches that should be used to respond to issues affecting people in their surroundings. However, the theory shuns from addressing the consequences associated with individual actions, which interfere with the thought process of people and their ability to make informed decisions when faced with imminent threats. Contrary to popular expectations, moral arguments can be associated with factual representation, which response to a wide range of issues that interfere with the quality of life affecting individuals in their surroundings.

Criticism of the Naturalistic Fallacy

When exploring the shortcomings of the naturalistic fallacy, individuals encounter different scenarios that influence their perspectives towards the concept. In one instance, the naturalistic fallacy interferes with the is-ought problem, which highlights the approaches one should pursue to achieve their desired goals. In this regard, when people make decisions on what ought to be done in any situation, they derive their line of thought from the “what” question, which enables them to accomplish their desired outcomes. However, the naturalistic fallacy distances the “is” aspect from the “ought” element, breaking down its intended function in resolving underlying issues and problems (Greene 848). Many scholars criticize the naturalistic fallacy because of its inability to conjoin the prescriptive and descriptive elements associated with the theoretical perspective. Separating facts from values creates an unwanted scenario where individuals encounter multiple challenges, which limit their scope of reasoning by exposing individuals to a context, which interferes with their perspectives towards life.

It should be noted that many philosophers objected to the naturalistic fallacy because of its approach to resolve the is-ought problem. In this regard, it is impossible to differentiate is from ought because of their close dependence, which shapes their perspectives towards various aspects of existence and society. From this realization, the bound-up functions are not supported by the naturalistic fallacy, regardless of their ability to shape outcomes in the world today. In the same vein, various aspects of naturalistic fallacy lack the desired rationality, which is supposed to influence the thought process of individuals when making decisions. In this case, introducing the aspect of scientific inquiry into ethical philosophy has a huge impact on the nature of approaches people can use to overcome their desired goals. However, the high level of inconsistency associated with the naturalistic fallacy compels individuals to draw a wide range of misleading conclusions, which affect their ability to make informed decisions. For this reason, naturalistic fallacy differs significantly from the normal approaches used in philosophy to provide solutions to different scenarios affecting individuals in their surroundings.

Singer’s Distinction Between Common Intuitions and Rational Intuitions

Singer creates a wide range of scenarios to expose individuals to an environment where they can understand the role of intuition in moral psychology. Unlike other scholars, Singer takes a critical approach that undermines the position adopted by the reflective equilibrium model, which hinders individuals from accomplishing their desired outcomes. For instance, in the drowning child-thought experiment, Singer indicates that individuals in wealthy countries have a moral responsibility, which requires them to contribute to charities that uplift the quality of life of individuals in developing nations (Singer 340). While it might not be compulsory, one is obligated to engage in activities that enable them to influence the nature of outcomes that promote fairness and equality in the world today. However, applying common intuition is a necessity, which often leans towards the good aspect of human existence and their ability to remain proactive in their measure of success. On its part, rational intuition is a product of logical processes that people embrace to develop viable solutions that influence their perspectives towards life. By referring to the drowning child experiment, rational intuition differs significantly from common intuition, which validates the need to save the affected person by utilizing the safest approach.

Rational Intuition

While death is an unwanted outcome, it is the end-process for humanity. Everyone will die at some point and as such, Singer urges individuals to focus on the underlying issues that are beyond the morality scope. When exploring the concept of death, common intuition will compel individuals to engage in activities that can yield favorable outcomes without acknowledging the unwanted scenarios. However, rational intuition is more factual and knowledge-oriented, a move that compels individuals to focus on the bigger picture before engaging in various activities (Sober). For example, accepting that the death of an individual is better than that of 100 people is largely influenced by rational intuition, which compels individuals to make hard decisions that have a lasting impact on life. From this realization, rational intuition exposes individuals to a context where they can gain powerful insights that improve their way of life and other aspects of existence, which influence their overall perspectives towards life.

Singer’s Program for a Systematic Study of Ethics

Attaining a reflective equilibrium when making informed decisions is a proactive method that influences the approaches people should use when responding to different problems in their surroundings. In this regard, Singer believes that common intuition should not precede rational intuition because of its ability to influence the outcomes of events in their surroundings. Given the approaches used to pursue different opportunities in contemporary society, individuals are supposed to embrace Singer’s systematic program of pursuing ethics as a study because of its ability to explore different elements that influence different outcomes. Singer believes that ethical perspectives cannot be resolved using scientific methods of investigation because of their biological nature, which influences the thought process of individuals in their surroundings. From this observation, Singer’s philosophical stand demonstrates the inability of individuals to adhere to societal constructs, which expose people to multiple scenarios that evaluate their application of common and rational intuitions.



Works Cited

Greene, Joshua. “From neural’is’ to moral ‘ought’: what are the moral implications of neuroscientific moral psychology?” Nature reviews neuroscience 4.10 (2003): 846-850.

Singer, Peter. “Ethics and intuitions.” The journal of ethics 9.3-4 (2005): 331-352.

Sober, Elliott. Philosophy of biology. Vol. 2. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000.



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