Species Concepts and Natural Goodness

In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints: Natural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science. MIT Press. pp. 289 (2011)
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Abstract

This chapter defends a pluralist understanding of species on which a normative species concept is viable and can support natural goodness evaluations. The central question here is thus: Since organisms are to be evaluated as members of their species, how does a proper understanding of species affect the feasibility of natural goodness evaluations? Philippa Foot has argued for a form of natural goodness evaluation in which living things are evaluated by how well fitted they are for flourishing as members of their species, in ways characteristic of their species. She has further argued that assessments of moral goodness in humans are of the same evaluative form. However, natural goodness evaluations and, by extension, the natural goodness approach, do not garner justification in virtue of employing a scientifically privileged conception of species. The natural goodness approach is only justified given particular metaethical and normative commitments that are independent of naturalism, since the approach does not depend upon naturalism alone.

Author Profiles

Ronald Sandler
Northeastern University
Judith Crane
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

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