The definist fallacy (sometimes Socratic fallacy) is a logical fallacy, coined by William Frankena Frankena argued that the naturalistic fallacy is a complete misnomer because it is neither limited to naturalistic properties nor necessarily a . The Naturalistic Fallacy: What It Is, and What It Isn’t. 1. In Principia He also mentions that Frankena had made the same claim back in THE NATURALISTIC FALLACY. BY W. K. FRANKENA. THF future historian of ” thought and expression” in the twentieth century will no doubt record with some.

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To abandon that constraint would be to abandon the project of moralizing so understood. A more promising approach for the non-naturalist would be to offer a positive explanation of supervenience in explicitly non-naturalist terms. So I shall here focus on the question of whether the moral case is in some way unique even though the more promising strategy here might be to argue that in these other cases some sort of reductive albeit perhaps non-analytic account is available after all.

In trying to make sense of the idea of moral perception of non-natural properties, some intuitionists have maintained that our ability to have veridical experiences of the moral properties is in virtue of our having a special faculty of mind whose function is to detect such properties. Rather, charity demands that we interpret such arguments as enthymematic, and usually this is easy enough.

Definist fallacy – Wikipedia

An account that claims only that moral knowledge is somehow like perceptual knowledge need not face these difficulties. Moore ‘s naturalistic fallacywhich argued that good cannot be defined by natural properties, as a broader confusion caused by attempting to define a term using non-synonymous properties.


Why do I say that Shafer-Landau’s theory seems to lead very quickly thf the rejection of certain forms of monism? Second, he argues that non-naturalism is itself untenable.


For it seems at least as naturalustic to suppose that the moral properties supervene on the non-moral ones as it is to suppose that they supervene on the natural properties. Some people care about morality and other people do not; one need not ascribe any mysterious motivational power to moral properties to explain why moral properties motivate when they do see, e.

For not only is it not especially a problem for naturalists, it is also not really a fallacy even if Moore is right that it embodies a mistake of some kind. However, on some interpretations of non-naturalism this move is available.

Essays on Moral RealismIthaca and London: The Open Question Argument maintains that it will always be possible for someone competent with moral discourse without conceptual confusion to grant that something is N but still wonder whether it is really M.

For given naturalism, the moral properties might well be identical to or reducible to familiar properties like the property of promoting happiness or the property of being truthful. Rather, people’s moral beliefs can be explained more elegantly and plausibly in terms of their upbringing and psychology without reference to any mysterious non-natural moral properties. Insofar as the non-naturalist quite rightly aspires to remain neutral on such first-order questions, this is a theoretical vice of the proposed explanation.

Perhaps mental properties elude scientific investigation but are real nonetheless.

Definist fallacy

Moore himself focused on goodness, but if the argument works for goodness then rfankena seems likely to generalize to other moral properties.

Understanding natural properties as those studied by the natural sciences [ i above] threatens to make our characterization of the natural implausibly dependent on what the actual objects of scientific investigation happen to be, as if there could not be natural properties our actual fallaccy investigation somehow never discovered.


Very plausibly, the moral facts are in some way entirely fixed by the natural facts. Only when the person has the appropriate motivations does the belief count as moral.

Cruelty, for example, presumably is a moral concept but intuitively someone can believe that an action would be cruel and simply not give a damn. Mackie’s official target is the thesis that moral properties are objective, but it tthe clear from his discussion that non-naturalist interpretations of moral properties are supposed to be falpacy vulnerable to his line of argument.

However, the non-naturalist will need a separate argument against those naturalists who hold that moral properties natural but irreducible.

The Naturalistic Fallacy in Meta-Ethics. Broad argued see Broadit is unclear how the roundness and brownness of a penny, for example, could exist in time by themselves. How might non-naturalists respond to the charge that they cannot explain supervenience? Such bare moral differences seem inconceivable.

This approach has its advantages. Clark Anne – – Biology and Philosophy 18 5: Showing that Blackburn’s move does not explain why the argument would not prove too much still does not provide a satisfactory defense of non-naturalism, though. This is why Moore’s own view of goodness as sui generis and irreducible is supposed to avoid the naturalistic naturwlistic.

Richards – – Biology and Philosophy 1 3: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.