Non-Analytical Naturalism and the Nature of Normative Thought: A Reply to Parfit

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 9 (1):1-5 (2015)
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Metaethical non-analytical naturalism consists in the metaphysical thesis that normative properties are identical with or reducible to natural properties and the epistemological thesis that we cannot come to a complete understanding of the nature of normative properties via conceptual analysis alone. In On What Matters, Derek Parfit (2011) argues that non-analytical naturalism is either false or incoherent. In § 1, I show that his argument for this claim is unsuccessful, by showing that it rests on a tacit assumption about the nature of normative thought that non-analytical naturalists need not accept. In § 2, I show that escaping Parfit’s argument in this way is no ad hoc maneuver; as I demonstrate, the idea that non-analytical naturalists can exploit to escape Parfit’s argument is a familiar one.

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N. G. Laskowski
University of Maryland, College Park


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