The statement also has a value element insofar as it depends on the speaker's values with regard to well-being (as I've discussed). I’m a normative (as well as moral) anti-realist. These are difficult *moral* questions; they concern how we ought to handle competing values and priorities. To (1) I think Harris would disagree and say that there is nothing in principle preventing science from predicting the effect of years of schooling in terms of brain states and placing those brain states on the spectrum from The Good Life to The Bad Life, which we agree upon by definition. To respond to the chess example, this differs from the dinner question only to the extent that it is assumed that the objective is to win the game, in which case the criterion for “good” becomes an essentially scientific (empirical) one: which opening is most likely to win the game? (My own view is that we should respond to these worries by abandoning the moral realist claim that rightness is discovered by human beings rather than constructed by them. In his earlier paper his complaint seemed to be that naturalistic ethics cannot have an ontological foundation. Greg wrote: “My position is that without a specified goal, normative statements are incoherent.”. In addition, even if it were a fallacy to infer "ought" from "is," this would not defeat naturalism. I think they may be much more like the question, “What is a good chess opening?” which has a lot less to do with individual preference, but still is a question about a human practice. So the question arises: How do we know about the supervenient property, or about the supervenience relation (and hence about the truth of premise 1.1)? Unlike you, I believe that there are normative truths and that they are not a matter of subjective preferences, but I want to avoid that topic here. After all, we can’t possibly recognize that something is the right action without recognizing that there is some sense in which we ought to do it. It hardly takes a book to refute this. Although this expert may in fact be extremely intelligent and may know a lot about a particular subject, merely citing an instance where this expert agrees with you does not mean that the conclusion of your argument is now completely veridical. Boston University Libraries. 2,2000, pp. People often have quite self-destructive preferences, and we might not want to take the fulfilling of those as contributing as much to well-being. Science can’t answer that question. Conclusion) Scientists can (indirectly) measure the rightness of actions. As I’ll try to demonstrate here, Harris’s argument cannot succeed. Intentional fallacy. No? In addition to claiming that naturalists have committed the NF Copan argues that they have a number of hurdles to overcome in order to prove their case. More importantly, Taliaferro is not saying that IOT is compatible with moral ontological skepticism (MOS) -- that is with skepticism about whether there are moral facts constituted by natural facts. >Good, now we have a (descriptive) necessary condition that some state must meet if it counts as “well-being”. (6) Naturalistic objective ethical theories remain unrefuted. Today I will show why such a move is fallacious, and draw attention to the way that Harris’s use of the ambiguous term “well-being” masks the fallacious move that his argument makes use of. I cited arguments that show there are inconsistencies in the concept of God. You seem to have the following options: a) provide a coherent explanation of what an unconditional normative statement means; b) choose a different implicit goal in moral normative statements other than “being moral”; or c) find some other substantive reason why “moral” is not a free variable label to which we can assign the meaning “maximizes well-being”. Perhaps the book would still have been interesting if he had provided a significant and novel argument for his (basically utilitarian) moral premise, or some novel replies to the objections to it (the objections are very standard and well-known, and some of them are very serious). I’ve continued to follow this discussion with a lot of interest. The Naturalistic Fallacy: What It Is, and What It Isn’t. This fallacy arises when we infer something is good because it is natural, or something is bad because it is unnatural. The 'Logical Parallels' Approach to Religious Language 8. How could anyone possibly doubt that the right action is the action that maximizes well–being? Science can tell us what we ought to do *IF* we seek to maximize well-being. The error Harris makes in his is-ought argument is that he fails to distinguish between normative (or moral) oughts and descriptive (or non-moral) oughts. Naturalists such as Firth, Boyd, Brink and Railton, Copan now says, are committing the naturalistic fallacy (NF) by inferring "ought" from "is." First, he maintains that if a good God exists, then we have grounds for thinking that the AE can be answered. Strangely Copan does not find such an objection "threatening" (91) and makes no attempt to answer any of the prima facie inconsistencies I cited except for one brief footnote (91-92, n.2). This is so not just in real world cases, but in hypothetical ones where the natural facts can be agreed on by stipulation (e.g. Let’s suppose we can all agree on this.< It is 482 THE SOCIAL SCIENCE JOURNAL Vol. http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Reviews-Essays/The-Moral-Landscape/ba-p/3477, Thanks Dennis, that’s a good review. “You ought to give money to Oxfam” could be partly descriptive (that’s the way to achieve your goals) and partly normative (prescribing the action regardless of whether it achieves the agent’s goals). God could do many things to increase belief without interfering with free will. maximizing the balance of [conscious states C]). Now, what’s wrong with defining “a morally good guy” as “a person who maximizes well-being”? : saying “You tell us that A is the right thing to do, but the real reason you want us to do A is that you would personally profit from it). D) overconfidence. C) the representative heuristic. Cheers. Harris acknowledges the need for a premise that cannot be defended by science. Harris argues that there are objective truths about what’s morally right and wrong, and that science can in principle determine what they are, all by itself. Copan does not begin to answer all these points. But morality is not independent on God either since morality could not exist independently of God. To be truly compelling, an argument needs to have both a set of undeniable premises, and a conclusion that logically follows from them. Sic et Non". Copan's treatment here ignores all the excellent critiques that naturalists have given of theistic interpretations of these phenomena. Paul Copan has replied in the form of a letter to my rebuttal of his critique of my Secular Web paper. Consider the statement, “if you want to catch the 5 o’clock train, you ought to leave now”. And I'm saying that this choice depends to some degree on my (the speaker's) values. Yes, I define well-being as something like the balance of pleasure, joy and satisfaction over pain and suffering. T he naturalistic fallacy and Hume's 'law' are frequently appealed to for the purpose of drawing limits around the scope of scientific inquiry into ethics and morality. In my rebuttal I argued that theism cannot possibly be thought to be an ontological foundation of morality or anything else since the concept of God is inconsistent. Straw man fallacy – misrepresenting an opponent's argument by broadening or narrowing the scope of a premise and refuting a weaker version (e.g. The trouble here is in the slipperiness of the term “well-being”. My impression is further confirmed by quotes like these: “morality should be considered an undeveloped branch of science” (4), and, “My claim is that there are right and wrong answers to moral questions, just as there are right and wrong answers to questions of physics, and such answers may one day fall within the reach of the maturing sciences of mind.” (28) Based on naturalistic philosophy, the most critical decisions human beings must make relate to how to promote survival. That the naturalistic fallacy can be multiply interpreted is perhaps part of the reason why proudly proclaiming avoidance of it is such an enduring trope of ethics. Sometimes a speaker or writer uses a fallacy intentionally. all of these can be measured objectively. If you define it as “what is good for an individual”, science can’t tell you how to maximize it. Simon: you didn’t respond to my last comment, but I have been following with interest your exchange with Greg. This is to say that if two actions differ as to their rightness, then they must also differ as to whether they maximize well-being, although rightness and maximizing well-being are not the very same thing. Sic et Non," Philosophia Christi, Series 2, Vol. Moore's non-naturalism comprised two main theses. b. are signs of the naturalistic fallacy. You think I’ve represented Harris unfairly by suggesting that his view is that science can answer moral questions on its own, and you express your interest in my following up with “an article that attacks his approach head-on.” I would be happy to oblige, but quite honestly I don’t see how to take a more “head-on” approach to Harris than I have already.