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Naturalism, sometimes also called definism, is a theory in meta-ethics that holds that ethical terms can be defined; the meaning of ethical sentences can be given in totally non-ethical terms. So to the question, "Can the meaning of ethical sentences be restated in other words that do not use normative concepts like 'good' and 'right'?" the naturalist answers, "Definitely." On the naturalist's view, ultimately, goodness and right are natural properties--they are ultimately properties of things that can be located in the natural world. The opposite view, ethical non-naturalism, was famously defended by G. E. Moore.

We might give a more detailed definition, in terms of propositions and reduction, that, in generalities, expresses the general understanding of the term:

Naturalism is the view that ethical sentences express propositions and that they can be reduced to nonethical sentences.

Examination of definitionEdit

The first part of the defintion, "that ethical sentences express propositions" expresses a view called cognitivism.

Ethical naturalism combines cognitivism with moral reductionism—the idea that ethical sentences "can be reduced to nonethical sentences". Thus, this theory holds that the meaning of ethical statements can be expressed without using ethical terms such as "good" and "right". In this way, ethical statements become a kind of shorthand, or useful abbreviation, for claims about what are ultimately nonethical facts about human needs or desires.

Theory of valueEdit

The theory of value — an important branch of ethics — contains a number of theories of what "good" means or, construed differently, what general sorts of things are good. One could look at the theory of value as a way of determining how to reduce goodness to nonethical properties, for there are many examples of such reductions in value theory. Hedonism, for example, is the view that goodness is ultimately just pleasure. It should be noted, however, that not all philosophers working on value theory would view their theories as naturalismi

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