Logical & Critical Thinking

with Professor Logic

Naturalistic Fallacy

naturalistic-fallacynaturalistic fallacy is any case in which someone concludes that something is a moral necessity simply because it is more natural. In this fallacy something considered natural is usually considered good, and something considered unnatural is bad. The main thing is that what is natural is assumed to be moral.

This fallacy is often associated with moral arguments where the claim is supported with positive verbiage. Some of this positive wording might include things like “superior”, “honorable”, “noble”, “pleasant”, or “desired”.

This fallacy is often confused or criticized with the is-ought fallacy. One should be well versed and comfortable with the is-ought fallacy if they wish to have a really good grasp on the naturalistic fallacy. It is also the inverse of the moralistic fallacy, where what is good or right is believed to be inherent or natural.

Naturalistic Fallacy Example

Naturalistic Fallacy Example 1

Argument: “It is noble to sacrifice oneself for their country, therefore those that make this sacrifice are more moral than those that don’t”

Naturalistic Fallacy Example 2

Argument: “Homosexuality is not natural as it is not used for reproduction, therefore it is immoral and homosexuals are bad.”

Naturalistic Fallacy Structure

Because A is natural then B is moral

A is natural and B is unnatural so therefore B is immoral

Naturalistic Fallacy Helpful Links

Naturalistic Fallacy Critique

Some argue that the naturalistic fallacy as described by Moore was not a fallacy at all. Many of the arguments against it boil down to naturalistic proponents against non-naturalistic proponents.

You can read some critiques of the fallacy here:

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  • Edilson F.º

    This example is not good. The fallacy is not about nobility, but nature.

    • critical student

      I agree, not a good example, especially as a first example where clarity is most valuable.

  • Viscount

    What you’re actually talking about here is ‘fallacious appeal to nature,’ The Naturalistic Fallacy is a proposal by G.E. Moore regarding the reduction of moral claims to non-moral claims.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_nature
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_fallacy

  • Vax

    I understand that a formal fallacy like this is a rather old thing but should we not first give consideration to the novelty of the term unnatural? Human beings are forgetting that we and the things we create, as existing components of this universe, are part of its nature as all things that have nothing to do with us and exist within it are. Thinking of an existing thing in nature as unnatural seems to be nothing other than a distracting waste of time in the overall discussion as its simply not possible for something within nature to be unnatural. If it exists its either natures creation or a byproduct of one of those creations, it is still natural either way.