Logic Me This: Naturalistic Fallacy
‘Logic Me This’ is a regular series on Teen Skepchick where we examine various logical fallacies in an attempt to help you think more like a Skeptic.
This week, I am attempting to get to grips with one of the (I think) most difficult fallacies, the naturalistic fallacy. This fallacy is something to be particularly aware of as a consumer, as Bug_girl pointed out in her AI yesterday.
Let me first say that I am jumping in a little superficially: As I tried to research this fallacy, a trip to the library and much googling left me baffled in a haze of philosophy I do not very clearly understand. At least, I do not understand it clearly enough to explain it very well. So, I will leave it to the experts, and you can see the links for further reading at the bottom of this post for more thorough discussions of the Naturalistic Fallacy as it applies to ethics, which is what the term was originally coined for, by
G.E. Moore in his Principia Ethica.
So this leads me to say: I am taking a really superficial approach to this fallacy, and not specifically focusing on ethics at all.
Which makes the whole thing really rather much simpler to explain. Not all things that are natural are good, and not all things that are not natural are bad. For example, this is something much-peddled by alternative medicine practitioners who like to claim that their products are “natural” and therefore better for you. Not so. People also like to argue that cleaning products are bad because of the particular chemicals they have in them- which is not necessarily true, because those chemicals are the things that make it work. Conversely, there are things in nature that aren’t necessarily “good”. There are many plants that, were you to eat them, could make you very sick.
Here is a very thorough discussion of this fallacy by the skeptheist. Make sure you watch it, it is very good and he includes various ideas about why people fall for this fallacy so readily (However, he does go off the rails into a bit of a side-rant towards the end, although it is a very interesting side-rant!).
Image Credit: here