Is --> Ought . . . Invalid?
I've often seen asserted (less often argued) the claim that one cannot legitimately move from an "is" to an "ought," i.e., from noting that something is the case to stating that it ought to be the case, and we can readily concede that some intolerable states of being (e.g., life in some totalitarian society) certainly offer no readily recognizable justification that such states ought to exist.
But suppose we have a human nature, grounded (let us say) in our biological inheritance, such that some states of being (e.g., life in a democratic republic) provide for better human flourishing than other states of being (e.g., life in some totalitarian society), then wouldn't the former be preferable to the latter?
Couldn't one therefore say, "If we want to be in a society that is suited for human flourishing, then we ought to choose a democratic republic over a totalitarian society"? In other words, don't conditionals like the one just stated move from an "is" to an "ought"?
Doubtless, this formulation could be more elegantly expressed than I have managed, and thinkers far more clearheaded than I am have surely already dealt with the issue of such conditionals, so what's the status of this idea that I've been vaguely mulling over for the past several months?
Can't one derive a prescriptive claim from a descriptive statement in this way?