Chickens, Chameleons, and Emos

I offer a critique of ethical naturalism in the style of Philippa Foot, Rosalind Hursthouse, and Michael Thompson. My main conclusions are 1) that as things are the theory is dangerously dependent on bad science, and especially a conception of animals more suited to a mediaeval bestiary than to modern zoology; 2) that natural normativity is real, but on its own an under-determining base for ethical normativity; 3) that ethical naturalism takes insufficient account of the possibilities that people might without incoherence take no interest either in the dominant version of flourishing, or indeed in any version of flourishing; 4) that ethical naturalism’s focus on the “glossy coat and the gleaming eye” leaves us saying not enough about the realities of human experience, about phenomenological ethics; and so 5) that we need to move from “ethical naturalism” to “not-just-naturalism”, to a view that uses the resources of natural normativity but is open to using other resources too. 

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