Naturalistic metaethics at half price
Let us call the world of facts studied by science "the naturalistic world." And let us call "naturalism" the view that all facts have to fit neatly into the naturalistic world. The relevant notion of "fitting into" is meant to be quite broad, but one obvious way in which a fact could fit into the naturalistic world would be for that fact simply to be a fact about the naturalistic world.1 On this interpretation, naturalism amounts to the view that all facts are naturalistic facts. One can make this view more or less controversial by having a more or less restricted view of what counts as science, and therefore as the naturalistic world. But a problem for anyone who wishes to defend a version of this simple sort of naturalism is that certain kinds of facts have seemed difficult to understand as a part the naturalistic world, even quite liberally conceived: facts about evaluative matters, facts about the meanings of words, facts about conscious experiences, and about mathematics and logic, to name just a few. One promising strategy for dealing with these threats to naturalism is to move to a more sophisticated understanding of "fitting into" the naturalistic world. This strategy begins by appealing to the kinds of facts that do not seem problematic, even on the simpler understanding of what it is to fit into the naturalistic world: facts about human behavior and about our linguistic capacities. It then seeks to show that our ways of thinking and talking about the problematic topics — including in many cases our regarding them as being factual — are completely unproblematic and unsurprising.
Gert, J. (2011)., Naturalistic metaethics at half price, in M. Brady (ed.), New waves in metaethics, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 36-61.
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