chapter  4
G. E. MOORE ON THE IDEAL
Pages 12

G. E. Moore’s Principia Ethica (1903) has had two distinct and rather confusing reputations. Professional philosophers, through much of the twentieth century, treated it almost solely as the source of the notion that all reasoning in support of moral conclusions is vitiated by a ‘naturalistic fallacy’. Moore’s book, along with a rather grim article by H. H. Prichard called ‘Does Moral Philosophy rest on a Mistake?’1 was thought to establish this bizarre position, and so to prove that academic moral philosophers ought to keep out of all substantial moral argument, and occupy themselves only with ‘meta-ethics’, that is, with propounding and refining moral scepticism. Academics regarded it simply as a book about argument, and a negative, destructive one.