Ulcers, Baseball, and the New Ethical Naturalism


  • Francis Moran III




Those involved in the current revival of ethical naturalism claim that this approach offers an escape from the inadequacy of moral relativism, especially the nihilism entailed in its denial of objective standards for our normative discourse. From this perspective, nature becomes the foundation of our moral claims. The following discussion generally ignores the logical and ideological issues involved in using nature in this way and instead shows that far from replacing moral relativism an ethics based on current evolutionist theory will ultimately lead to something like the relativist position. I then draw on the rules of baseball and their ability to govern behavior on the field to argue that we ought not necessarily despair our failure to locate an objective basis for our moral theories. Politics and our polilical institutions function in much the same capacity as the baseball establishment: they provide the rules by which the game should be played and the power to enforce compliance.