Tuesday, November 27, 2018

the reverse naturalistic fallacy

The naturalistic fallacy, as outlined by Scottish philosopher David Hume, is the leap from is to ought.

The tendency to believe that what is, is good; therefore what is, is what ought to be.

The moralistic fallacy, is the opposite. It refers to making the leap from ought to is. The claim that the way things should be is the way they are.

This is sometimes called the reverse naturalistic fallacy.

For example, take some randomly selected Simon Sinek platitude like this:

‘Great companies don't hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them’.

Or how about:

‘The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.’

This kind of glibness falls squarely into the reverse naturalistic bucket, which makes them great Linkedin fodder for the mass of suckers.

Nice ideas. But just because that’s the way things ought to be doesn’t mean it’s anything like the way things really are.

Outside of Simon’s world, for most people the reality of their jobs is what the anarchist philosopher David Graeber calls ‘the shift towards an immaterial economy that creates large numbers of jobs without an obvious social value that are often experienced as being purposeless and empty by their occupants.’

Sinek himself is no sucker, of course. I’d kill for one-tenth of his book sales.

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