The Appeal to Nature fallacy occurs when someone argues that because something is “natural,” it is therefore valid, justified, good, or ideal. Conversely, this fallacy may also involve arguing that something is bad, unjustified, or wrong because it is “unnatural.” The underlying assumption is that what occurs naturally is inherently better or more morally right than what is unnatural or man-made, but this is not universally true.
Suppose someone argues that a particular herbal remedy is better than a synthesized medication simply because the herbal remedy is natural. This is an Appeal to Nature fallacy. Just because the herbal remedy is natural does not automatically make it safer, more effective, or better than a synthesized medication. Each should be evaluated on its own merits, including effectiveness, safety profile, and possible side effects.
The fallacy lies in the assumption that “natural” is synonymous with “better,” “safer,” or “more moral,” without offering substantive evidence to support such a claim. The natural world is filled with things that are both beneficial and harmful. Poison ivy is natural, but most would not argue it is good to touch it. Cyanide is a natural compound but is lethal in certain doses. On the flip side, plenty of synthetic or “unnatural” things, like airplanes or life-saving medicines, have provided enormous benefits to humanity.
So, while the “natural” status of something might be one factor to consider in evaluating it, it should not be the sole criterion for determining its worth, morality, or effectiveness.