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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 10, 2008


Sibel Oktar
Pages 317-323
DOI: 10.5840/wcp222008101001

Is Moore a Metaphysical Ethicist?

“Naturalistic fallacy” is generally associated with Moore’s charge against the naturalists. But for Moore, metaphysical ethics, including those of Kant is as guilty as naturalistic ethics in committing the naturalistic fallacy. Here, the fallacy is identifying “good” with anything metaphysical. Moore appreciates that ‘metaphysical’ propositions provide us with a chance to talk about objects that are not natural. And he thinks that metaphysical ethicists’ do not recognise that these objects do not exist at all, rather they think if the object in question does not exist in nature and time it must exist somewhere else, i.e., in a supersensible reality. Moore’s main criticism of metaphysical ethics focuses on the belief that an objects existence is an essential requirement for its ‘goodness’. For Moore, there are non‐natural objects, by definition they do not belong to nature, they do not exist in nature, they are not sensible. Moore’s only difference from the metaphysical ethicists seems to be in saying that these non-natural objects are not supersensible and in fact they do not exist. In this paper I will investigate such similarities and differences between Moore and metaphysical ethicists and where Moore really stands in the metaphysical-naturalistic spectrum. I will concentrate on Kantian ethics, for Moore thinks that Kantian ethics is an exemplar of metaphysical ethics, and Kant has committed naturalistic fallacy. I will try to show that Moore’s argument on Kant committing naturalistic fallacy is gratuitous. I will argue that Moore’s notion of “good” as a non-natural object that does not exist in time is hard to conceive without assuming a ‘transcendental object’ and the existence of a supersensible reality, as Kant does. And I suggest that Moore is as guilty as Kant in stepping into the supersensible reality.

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