George Edward "G. E." Moore OM FBA (/mɔːr, mʊər/; 4 November 1873
– 24 October 1958) was an English philosopher. He was, with Bertrand
Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and (before them) Gottlob Frege, one of
the founders of the analytic tradition in philosophy. Along with
Russell, he led the turn away from idealism in British philosophy, and
became well known for his advocacy of common sense concepts, his
contributions to ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics, and "his
exceptional personality and moral character." He was Professor of
Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, highly influential among
(though not a member of) the Bloomsbury Group, and the editor of the
influential journal Mind. He was elected a fellow of the British
Academy in 1918. He was a member of the
1 Life 2 Philosophy
2.1.1 The naturalistic fallacy 2.1.2 Open-question argument 2.1.3 Good as indefinable 2.1.4 Good as a non-natural property 2.1.5 Moral knowledge
2.2 Proof of an external world 2.3 Moore's paradox 2.4 Organic wholes
3 Works 4 References 5 Further reading 6 External links
Moore was born in Upper Norwood, Croydon, Greater London, on 4
November 1873, the middle child of seven of Dr Daniel Moore and
Henrietta Sturge. His grandfather was the author Dr George Moore. His
eldest brother was Thomas Sturge Moore, a poet, writer and
He was educated at Dulwich College and in 1892 went up to Trinity
The title page of Principia Ethica
His influential work
It may be true that all things which are good are also something else,
just as it is true that all things which are yellow produce a certain
kind of vibration in the light. And it is a fact, that
Therefore, we cannot define "good" by explaining it in other words. We
can only point to an action or a thing and say "That is good."
Similarly, we cannot describe to a person born totally blind exactly
what yellow is. We can only show a sighted person a piece of yellow
paper or a yellow scrap of cloth and say "That is yellow."
Good as a non-natural property
In addition to categorising "good" as indefinable, Moore also
emphasized that it is a non-natural property. This means that it
cannot be empirically or scientifically tested or verified - it is not
within the bounds of "natural science".
Moore argued that once arguments based on the naturalistic fallacy had
been discarded, questions of intrinsic goodness could only be settled
by appeal to what he (following Sidgwick) called "moral intuitions:"
self-evident propositions which recommend themselves to moral
reflection, but which are not susceptible to either direct proof or
disproof (PE § 45). As a result of his view, he has often been
described by later writers as an advocate of ethical intuitionism.
Moore, however, wished to distinguish his view from the views usually
described as "Intuitionist" when
In order to express the fact that ethical propositions of my first class [propositions about what is good as an end in itself] are incapable of proof or disproof, I have sometimes followed Sidgwick's usage in calling them 'Intuitions.' But I beg that it may be noticed that I am not an 'Intuitionist,’ in the ordinary sense of the term. Sidgwick himself seems never to have been clearly aware of the immense importance of the difference which distinguishes his Intuitionism from the common doctrine, which has generally been called by that name. The Intuitionist proper is distinguished by maintaining that propositions of my second class—propositions which assert that a certain action is right or a duty—are incapable of proof or disproof by any enquiry into the results of such actions. I, on the contrary, am no less anxious to maintain that propositions of this kind are not 'Intuitions,’ than to maintain that propositions of my first class are Intuitions. — G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica, Preface ¶ 5
Moore distinguished his view from the view of deontological intuitionists, who held that "intuitions" could determine questions about what actions are right or required by duty. Moore, as a consequentialist, argued that "duties" and moral rules could be determined by investigating the effects of particular actions or kinds of actions (PE § 89), and so were matters for empirical investigation rather than direct objects of intuition (PE § 90). On Moore's view, "intuitions" revealed not the rightness or wrongness of specific actions, but only what things were good in themselves, as ends to be pursued. Proof of an external world Main article: Here is one hand One of the most important parts of Moore's philosophical development was his break from the idealism that dominated British philosophy (as represented in the works of his former teachers F. H. Bradley and John McTaggart), and his defence of what he regarded as a "common sense" form of realism. In his 1925 essay "A Defence of Common Sense", he argued against idealism and scepticism toward the external world, on the grounds that they could not give reasons to accept that their metaphysical premises were more plausible than the reasons we have to accept the common sense claims about our knowledge of the world, which sceptics and idealists must deny. He famously put the point into dramatic relief with his 1939 essay "Proof of an External World", in which he gave a common sense argument against scepticism by raising his right hand and saying "Here is one hand," and then raising his left and saying "And here is another," then concluding that there are at least two external objects in the world, and therefore that he knows (by this argument) that an external world exists. Not surprisingly, not everyone inclined to sceptical doubts found Moore's method of argument entirely convincing; Moore, however, defends his argument on the grounds that sceptical arguments seem invariably to require an appeal to "philosophical intuitions" that we have considerably less reason to accept than we have for the common sense claims that they supposedly refute. (In addition to fueling Moore's own work, the "Here is one hand" argument also deeply influenced Wittgenstein, who spent his last years working out a new approach to Moore's argument in the remarks that were published posthumously as On Certainty.) Moore's paradox Moore is also remembered for drawing attention to the peculiar inconsistency involved in uttering a sentence such as "It is raining but I do not believe it is raining."—a puzzle which is now commonly called "Moore's paradox." The puzzle arises because it seems impossible for anyone to consistently assert such a sentence; but there doesn't seem to be any logical contradiction between "It is raining" and "I don't believe that it is raining." because the former is a statement about the weather and the latter a statement about a person's belief about the weather, and it is perfectly logically possible that it may rain whilst a person does not believe that it is raining. In addition to Moore's own work on the paradox, the puzzle also inspired a great deal of work by Ludwig Wittgenstein, who described the paradox as the most impressive philosophical insight that Moore had ever introduced. It is said that when Wittgenstein first heard this paradox one evening (which Moore had earlier stated in a lecture), he rushed round to Moore's lodgings, got him out of bed and insisted that Moore repeat the entire lecture to him. Organic wholes Moore’s description of the principle of organic unity is extremely straightforward; nonetheless, and a variant on a pattern that began with Aristotle:
The value of a whole must not be assumed to be the same as the sum of the values of its parts (Principia, § 18).
According to Moore, a moral actor cannot survey the "goodness" inherent in the various parts of a situation, assign a value to each of them, and then generate a sum in order to get an idea of its total value. A moral scenario is a complex assembly of parts, and its total value is often created by the relations between those parts, and not by their individual value. The organic metaphor is thus very appropriate: biological organisms seem to have emergent properties which cannot be found anywhere in their individual parts. For example, a human brain seems to exhibit a capacity for thought when none of its neurons exhibit any such capacity. In the same way, a moral scenario can have a value far greater than the sum of its component parts. To understand the application of the organic principle to questions of value, it is perhaps best to consider Moore’s primary example, that of a consciousness experiencing a beautiful object. To see how the principle works, a thinker engages in "reflective isolation", the act of isolating a given concept in a kind of null-context and determining its intrinsic value. In our example, we can easily see that per sui, beautiful objects and consciousnesses are not particularly valuable things. They might have some value, but when we consider the total value of a consciousness experiencing a beautiful object, it seems to exceed the simple sum of these values (Principia 18:2). Works
Gravestone of philosopher
G. E. Moore
G. E. Moore, "The Nature of Judgment" (1899)
G. E. Moore,
G. E. Moore, "The Conception of Intrinsic Value" G. E. Moore, "The Nature of Moral Philosophy"
G. E. Moore, "Are the Characteristics of Things Universal or
G. E. Moore, "A Defence of Common Sense" (1925)
G. E. Moore
G. E. Moore, Ch. 3, "Propositions"
G. E. Moore, Philosophical Papers (1959)
G. E. Moore, Ch. 7: "Proof of an External World"
"Margin Notes by
G. E. Moore
^ G. E. Moore, "The Refutation of Idealism" (1903), p. 37.
^ Robert Hanna, Kant, Science, and Human Nature. Clarendon Press,
2006, p. 60.
^ James Ward (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
^ Maria van der Schaar, G. F. Stout and the Psychological Origins of
Analytic Philosophy, Springer, 2013, p. viii.
^ Alice Ambrose, Morris Lazerowitz (eds.), G. E. Moore: Essays in
Retrospect, Volume 3, Psychology Press, 2004, p. 25.
^ "Moore, George Edward". Preston, Aaron. Internet Encyclopedia.
Iep.utm.edu. 30 December 2005. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
^ Levy, Paul (1979). Moore: G.E. Moore and the
Levy, Paul (1979). Moore: G.E. Moore and the
Wikiquote has quotations related to: G. E. Moore
Summary of life and work of G. E. Moore The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
G.E. Moore G.E. Moore's Moral Philosophy
G. E. Moore
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