User Tools

Site Tools


Appeal to Nature

An appeal to nature an argument we should act in some way because that is natural. The claim that appealing to nature is invalid is a particular kind of “Is vs. Ought” argument, but has other puzzles besides. What does it mean for anything human to be “natural”, since only human things can be non-natural?

In our project of developing a scientifically informed understanding of the human condition we have to show that our use of Evolutionary Psychology is more than just an appeal to nature. When we use evolutionary reasoning to understand how things got this way, this can easily be misheard as arguing that life should be this way. It certainly seems that the evolutionary psychology interpretive position can be seen as describing what is natural.

It is more accurate to describe the evolutionary viewpoint as saying that “it is unavoidable that things will be this way (to some degree)”. If a thing is good, then the evolutionary view does not get much push-back from our gut feelings. But when evolutionary psychology explains why a bad behavior exists, this makes people uncomfortable. But unless the conditions have gone away that caused that behavior adaptations to evolve, then there is no way to stamp it out entirely. If you look around you in the world, you see everywhere how we have evolved many ways to keep antisocial behavior under control.

Arguing that something is inevitable is not exactly the same as arguing that it is good, but if you accept the inevitability, then it is still kind of an argument killer.

See Evolutionary Ethics, Is vs. Ought, individual/group conflict.

You could leave a comment if you were logged in.
analysis/philosophy/appeal_to_nature.txt · Last modified: 2018/04/22 13:01 by ram