Elevating Human Being: Towards a New Sort of Naturalism
Liu (Irene)
Source: Philosophy, Vol. 97, 2017, pp. 597 - 622
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Defended by scholars such as John McDowell and Julia Annas, the naturalism of second nature (NSN) claims that the virtues are part of a rational second nature instilled through moral education.
  2. While NSN emphasizes that rationality, fully developed, results in autonomy from nature, it is considered a sort of naturalism because the development of rational second nature unfolds through entirely natural processes.
  3. Critics object that NSN does not utilize human nature as a standard of evaluation, which is a problem for a view that claims to be a sort of naturalism.
  4. This paper attempts to meet this charge by introducing a novel way to understand the normative significance of human nature. It argues that NSN supports an analysis of human nature as the raw material of the virtues and, as such, the basis of a kind of aesthetic evaluation. Specifically, human nature is the basis of humaneness, a kind of beauty that belongs to what elevates or refines human nature. Thus, according to the fortified naturalism of second nature the ethical significance of human nature is explained by recognizing how the virtues exemplify a kind of beauty that only humans can have.

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