The open question argument

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


The Open Question Argument (OQA) is a crucial argumentative strategy in metaethics. It is mainly employed against naturalist accounts of moral properties. According to these views, moral properties (goodness, wrongness, cruelty, and the like) are empirically observable natural properties, such as the property of being approved or disapproved by the majority of people (see naturalism, ethical). The defenders of the OQA tend to claim that this argument shows instead either (i) that moral properties are some other, unique kind of properties, or (ii) that the function of our moral language is not to refer to properties but rather to express our conative attitudes (see nonnaturalism, ethical; non-cognitivism). Both these views would support the idea that there is a distinction in kind between facts and values (see fact–value distinction; is–ought gap; naturalistic fallacy).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Encyclopedia of Ethics
EditorsHugh LaFollette
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781444367072
ISBN (Print)9781405186414
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


  • Metaethics
  • Open Question Argument
  • G.E. Moore


Dive into the research topics of 'The open question argument'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this