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Journal Article

The Naturalistic Fallacy Is Modern

Lorraine Daston
Vol. 105, No. 3 (September 2014), pp. 579-587
DOI: 10.1086/678173
Stable URL:
Page Count: 9
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ABSTRACTThe naturalistic fallacy appears to be ubiquitous and irresistible. The avant-garde and the rearguard, the devout and the secular, the learned elite and the lay public all seem to want to enlist nature on their side, everywhere and always. Yet a closer look at the history of the term “naturalistic fallacy” and its associated arguments suggests that this way of understanding (and criticizing) appeals to nature’s authority in human affairs is of relatively modern origin. To apply this category cross-historically masks considerable variability and naturalizes our own assumptions about the natural and the human.