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Title: The "Non-Naturalistic Fallacy" in Lao-Zhuang Daoism
Authors: Bender, Jacob
Keywords: Humanities::Philosophy
Issue Date: 2021
Source: Bender, J. (2021). The "Non-Naturalistic Fallacy" in Lao-Zhuang Daoism. Philosophy East and West, 71(2), 265-286.
Journal: Philosophy East and West
Abstract: The Lao-Zhuang Daoist account of values is grounded in a processual understanding of nature and experience.1 Building on previous scholarship, I take the Daoist as describing an anti-representational account of experience.2 The intent of the present study is to clarify how the Daoist understanding of mind and morality is radically naturalistic such that it simultaneously critiques non-naturalistic accounts of values and morality as the source of unnecessary suffering in the world. Drawing on the same spirit as John Dewey’s critique of the Western philosophical tradition, I argue that the Daoist understanding of nature would hold that any attempt to isolate qualities from the contexts of which they are unique products would commit an epistemological fallacy—what can be called the “Non-Naturalistic Fallacy.” The Daoist tradition would claim that qualities are properties of interrelationship and are always context dependent and novel. In other words, no such quality or “thing” like a good/value/end-in-itself exists. Furthermore, the Daoist account of nature would also claim that it is actually “non-naturalistic” accounts of value that are the root sources of unnecessary suffering in human society. “Intrinsic value,” far from being an assumption necessary for grounding ethical conduct, provides a formula for coercive and oppressive behavior. I conclude by illustrating how this is the case. Although there is more that can be done to help illustrate why and how “intrinsic value” is naturally an oppressive idea,3 I focus on how the notion helps to justify “any means necessary” conduct such as war. War can only be considered to be of positive moral value if the existence of “intrinsic value” is assumed. For the Daoist, war is never a possible means to a morally good end.
ISSN: 0031-8221
DOI: 10.1353/pew.2021.0019
Rights: © 2021 University of Hawai‘i Press. All rights reserved. This paper was published in Philosophy East and West and is made available with permission of University of Hawai‘i Press.
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
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