MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

1348 views

What is the ‘is-ought’ fallacy?

The ‘is-ought’ fallacy, associated most notably with David Hume, is a fallacy committed in reasoning from descriptive premises to normative or prescriptive conclusions. Descriptive statements describe things: they tell us how the world is (and as such typically contain an ‘is’). However, normative or prescriptive statements tell us how the world ought to be (and as such typically contain as ‘ought’). Reflect for a moment on this argument: (1) either that flying object is a bird or it is a plane; (2) that flying object is not a bird; therefore, (3) that flying object is a plane. This argument is what logicians call valid because the premises entail the conclusion. In other words, so long as the premises are true it’s impossible for the conclusion to be false. Compare this kind of argument: (1) Evolution is a competition for survival; (2) we humans are the products of evolution; therefore, (3) we humans ought to compete to survive. Is this argument valid? It may appear to have some initial plausibility, but it doesn’t seem at all obvious that it is. From the fact that evolution is a competition for survival and the fact that humans are the result of evolution, it doesn’t follow that humans ought to compete to survive. All that really follows is that so far we have - successfully - competed for survival. It’s important to note that that’s not to say that humans ought not to compete to survive, only that these facts alone do not establish any conclusion about what ought to happen whatsoever. This kind of fallacy is often committed by so-called Social Darwinists, who believe that evolutionary theory has implications for how we ought to arrange society or live our lives.

Luke N. A Level Philosophy tutor, GCSE Philosophy tutor, IB Philosoph...

2 years ago

Answered by Luke, an A Level Philosophy tutor with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

28 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£20 /hr

Francesca D.

Degree: Philosophy (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered:Philosophy, Philosophy and Ethics+ 2 more

Philosophy
Philosophy and Ethics
Business Studies
-Personal Statements-

“A friendly, approachable and committed tutor with a great enthusiasm for helping students reach their full potential! ”

£22 /hr

Rini J.

Degree: Philosophy and Modern Languages (Bachelors) - Oxford, St Hilda's College University

Subjects offered:Philosophy, Religious Studies+ 6 more

Philosophy
Religious Studies
French
English and World Literature
English Literature
English Language
-Personal Statements-

“An Oxford student and aspiring teacher with extensive tutoring experience in the UK, France, and China. ”

£24 /hr

Oliver W.

Degree: Philosophy (Bachelors) - Warwick University

Subjects offered:Philosophy, Philosophy and Ethics+ 4 more

Philosophy
Philosophy and Ethics
English Literature
English Language
-Personal Statements-

“Hi, I'm Oli! Language, literature, and philosophy are at the forefront of my interests, and essay writing advice is my speciality. I hope to see you soon!”

About the author

Luke N.

Currently unavailable: for regular students

Degree: Philosophy (Bachelors) - Glasgow University

Subjects offered:Philosophy, Politics

Philosophy
Politics

“First-class Hons Philosophy graduate, about to embark on post-graduate study: care deeply about my subject and keen to help”

MyTutor guarantee

|  5 completed tutorials

You may also like...

Posts by Luke

What is the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness?

What is the ‘is-ought’ fallacy?

Why might moral reasoning be a problem for moral non-cognitivism?

Other A Level Philosophy questions

Explain each of the following: - How moral decisions are made using Rule Utilitarianism - Mill’s ideas concerning the importance of the quality of pleasure

What is Epistemology?

How should I be writing my essay in the exam to make sure I get the most marks? What structure are they looking for?

I do not wish to tutor this subject

View A Level Philosophy tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok