Ethical Naturalism

Nicholas L. Sturgeon

in The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780195325911
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Ethical Naturalism

Show Summary Details


This article defends naturalistic moral realism. It holds that the moral properties are ordinary properties such as the property of being a quarter dollar or the property of being deciduous. There is no adequate reason to suppose that moral properties are any more problematic or puzzling than are the properties that are theorized about in biology or in psychology, such as being deciduous or being in pain. The latter properties supervene on the basic physical natures of things in the sense that, roughly, any biological or psychological change in a thing depends on some underlying change in the physical nature of the thing. Similarly, this article holds, moral properties supervene on the basic nature of things. It suggests that to understand the moral properties, there is no substitute for normative theorizing. To understand what justice is, one needs to think about what makes for just institutions.

Keywords: naturalistic moral realism; moral properties; psychology; normative theorizing; justice

Article.  15162 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.