GE Moore_ “Goodness as Simple an by fjwuxn

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									G. E. Moore, “Goodness as Simple and Indefinable”
1. “Naturalness”

Moore is a cognitivist; hence, moral claims are truth-apt. However, what does the
predicate “goodness” refer to? Can it refer to a natural property?

For Moore, ‘natural’ is to be understood as,

        By ‘nature’, then, I do mean and have meant that which is the subject
        matter of the natural sciences and also of psychology. It may be said to
        include all that has existed, does exist, or will exist in time ([1903] 1993,
        92).

For a property to be the subject matter of the natural sciences, is for that property
to be detectable by the senses. Hence, we can define ‘natural’ as follows:

        A property is natural if, and only if, it is detectable by the senses.

2. The Naturalistic                    Fallacy        and       the      Open-Question
Argument
Moore argues that the concept goodness is not definable in terms of any natural
property. However, this is not because Moore believes that it is definable in terms
of some non-natural property; rather, it is because the concept is indefinable.

        Even if [good] were a natural object, that would not alter the nature of the
        fallacy nor diminish its importance one whit. All that I have said about it
        would remain quite equally true: only the name which I have called it
        would not be so appropriate as I think it is ([1903] 1993, 65).

Here is Moore’s argument reconstructed using hedonism as a target:

        Hedonism: something is good if, and only if, it is pleasurable.

1. Suppose that ‘goodness’ is synonymous with ‘pleasurable’.1

2. If ‘goodness’ is synonymous with ‘pleasurable’ then the question “Are acts of
   kindness which are pleasurable also good?” is synonymous with the question
   “Are acts of kindness which are good also good?”.




1 Even if the predicate ‘is good’ is not synonymous with ‘is pleasurable’, the claim would go
through by supposing that the predicates are analytically equivalent. That is to say, they possess
the same extensions in all possible worlds.
3. So, the question “Are acts of kindness which are also pleasurable also good?”
   is synonymous with the question “Are acts of kindness which are also good
   also good?”

4. However, these questions are not synonymous—the former has a non-trivial
   answer and the latter has a trivial answer.

5. Therefore, ‘goodness’ is not synonymous with ‘pleasurable’.

6. If two predicates are non-synonymous, then the properties to which they refer
   cannot be identical.

7. Therefore, goodness and pleasurable are distinct properties.

Moore generalizes and claims this is true of any natural property. Moreover, it is
true of any non-natural property as well. Let’s consider the argument again but
using the following:

      Divine Command Theory: something is good if, and only if, it is approved
      of by God.

8. Suppose that ‘goodness’ is synonymous with ‘approved by God’.

9. If ‘goodness’ is synonymous with ‘approved of by God’ then the question “Are
   acts of kindness which are approved by God also good?” is synonymous with
   the question “Are acts of kindness which are good also good?”.

10. So, the question “Are acts of kindness which are approved by God also good?”
    is synonymous with the question “Are acts of kindness which are good also
    good?”

11. However, these questions are not synonymous—the former has a non-trivial
    answer and the latter has a trivial answer.

12. Therefore, ‘goodness’ is not synonymous with ‘approved by God’.

13. If two predicates are non-synonymous, then the properties to which they refer
    cannot be identical.

14. Therefore, goodness and approved by God are distinct properties.


3. An Objection

Consider the following:

      Is Superman Clark Kent?
Given that Superman is identical to Clark Kent, then following question should be
synonymous with the following:

      Is Superman Superman?

However, the two questions are not synonymous, and following Moore, we
should conclude that Superman is not identical to Clark Kent!

Similarly, consider the following question:

      Is heat mean kinetic energy?

Given that heat is identical to mean kinetic energy, then the former question
should be synonymous with the following:

      Is heat heat?

However, they are not and Moore would have us conclude that heat is not mean
kinetic energy.

Moore’s mistake: Two predicates can be non-synonymous and yet the properties
to which they refer can be identical.

								
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