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Naturalistic Fallacy

  The naturalistic fallacy, in philosophy, is the (supposed) fallacy of inferring an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. From statements only concerning how things actually are one cannot validly infer statements about how things ought to be. From the statement of fact, ‘torturing cats causes them unnecessary pain’, one cannot validly derive the conclusion that ‘one ought not to torture cats’. One can only validly derive the conclusion if one adds a premise which is itself an ‘ought’ statement such as that ‘one ought not to cause unnecessary pain’. AJ

See also descriptivism and prescriptivism; fact and value.Further reading W. Hudson, The Is/Ought Question; Modern Moral Philosophy.



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