A Fresh Start?

Philippa Foot

in Natural Goodness

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780198235088
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597428 | DOI:
A Fresh Start?

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Foot criticizes G. E. Moore's anti‐naturalism and the subjectivist or non‐cognitivist theories influenced by Moore, such as emotivism, prescriptivism, and expressivism. Foot traces the roots of non‐cognitivism to a desire‐based, egoistic interpretation of David Hume's practicality requirement, i.e. that morality is necessarily practical. Foot eschews this interpretation of Hume's requirement for an alternative, cognitivist, notion of practical rationality that nevertheless still meets this requirement. Foot also denies that moral evaluation is opposed to descriptive statements, or matters of fact, as the non‐cognitivists argue; it has to do rather with facts about a particular subject matter, i.e. human life. Her main argument, which she will pursue throughout the book, is that the grounding of a moral argument is ultimately in these facts, or in what Elizabeth Anscombe refers to as ‘Aristotelian necessities’, i.e. the moral virtues; and thus the evaluation of the human will should be determined by facts about the nature of human beings and of the life of our species.

Keywords: Anscombe; emotivism; Hume; Moore; moral virtues; non‐cognitivism; practical rationality; practicality requirement; prescriptivism

Chapter.  8355 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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