Meta-ethical theories

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  • Meta-Ethical Theories
    • Ethical Naturalism
      • What is ethical naturalism?
        • The belief that moral truths can be observed through observing the world- right and wrong.
        • Moralist realist theory and cognitivist. Naturalists believe ethical terms are meaningful.
      • Meta ethics: From Greek meta meaning above and beyond. Study of the meaning of ethical concepts.
      • Normative ethics: theories of ethics that give advice on how we ought to behave.
      • Naturalism: idea that moral values can be correctly defined by observing the natural world.
      • Moral realism: belief that right and wrong exist.
      • Cognitivism: belief that moral statements are subject to being true/false.
      • Versions of ethical naturalism
        • Empirically.
        • Aquinas- theological naturalism. God given order guilt into the world. Moral values understood through God given purpose and observe natural order.
        • Bradley- understand moral duties by observing position in life. Duties+moras attached.
        • "What he as to do depends on what his place is, what his function is, and that all comes from his station in the organism" Bradley.
        • Bentham+Mill= discover right and wrong by discovering which action leads to pleasure or pain.
      • Naturalism and absolutism
        • Ethical naturalism links to absolutism.
        • Arguing for ethical naturalism is using Natural law: moral values we discover when considering purpose creating absolute rules.
        • Utilitarian naturalism. However, if thinker believes right and wrong linked to pleasure+pain, more relative truths.
      • An objection to naturalism
        • Hume fact value distinction or 'is-ought' problem.
        • Consider action such as murder we describe facts empirically-'is' the move to moral claims involving 'ought/ought not'.
        • Hume- no matter how much we examine a situation as we won't empirically see/hear 'wrongness' of an action.
    • Institutions
      • What is intuitionism?
        • Moral truths can't be discovered by observing the world. Right+wrong=self evident.
        • Moral realist theory (naturalism), believing moral facts exist, cognitive- statements of right and wrong subject to being true and false.
        • Believe ethical terms are meaningful, differ as to how they are known.
      • Moore's institutionism
        • Identifies naturalistic fallacy as an error that naturalism makes.
        • Don't recognise goodness through empirical facts. Good self evident to intuition.
        • Using analogy of colour yellow. Only answer ;what is yellow' through pointing to a yellow object- able to recognise. can't be defined.
        • Moore's difference between simple ideas such as yellow can't be. Complex ideas which a horse broken down into legs.
        • "If I am a sued 'what is good? my answer is that good is good...Or if I am asked "how is good to be defined?' my answer is that it cannot be defined" Moore
      • Assessing intuitionism
        • Takes Hume's 'is-ought' challenge seriously.
        • Widespread agreement on moral institutions.
        • Defends the existence of moral facts.
        • People can have different institutions.
        • Not clear as to what institution actually is.
        • Idea of ability isn't able to be analysed by senes and affected.
    • Emotivism
      • What is emotivism?
        • Believers there's no moral truths; moral statements are based on feelings of approval.
        • Non-Cognitivist (moral statements arent subject to truth) argue ethical statements are meaningless.
      • The Vienna Cricle and the Verification Principle
        • Logical positivism: developed by members of Vienna Circle which considered philosophical-analysis to be way to determine whether an idea is meaningful.
        • Analytic statements: true by definition. Synthetic statements: verified by senses.
        • Hume: moral judgements feelings rather than factual judgements.
        • Observes facts of situation we aren't able to see rightness and wrongness.
        • "The vice entirely escapes you, as long as you consider the object" Hume
      • Ayer's emotivism
        • Ayer agreed with logical positivists on verification principle.
        • View statements as meaningful if we can say how we verify them.
        • Moral statements arent logical provable by senses= factually meaningless.
        • Ayer argues  its important to look at what ethical statements are rather than look for 'meaning'.
        • Means we need to look at how speaker use 'right' and 'wrong'.
        • Ethical statements show emotional states of feelings about issues. Words right and wrong approve and disprove.
      • Evince
        • Ayer uses 'envince' to explain how ethical statements show emotional state.
        • Doesn't mean same as expressing emotional state, Ayer points out what we may/may not feel emotion.
    • Ethical terms as objective and meaningful
      • Arguments for and against moral facts (moral realism)
        • Shared moral values: people who support moral realism point agreement on moral values. Everyone who argue that torture or rarpe is wrong. Agreement suggests morality can't be a matter of personal opinion. However, its possible to suggest that grass is half empty rather than half full.
        • Moral progress: progress in our attitude, ethical language describes real things. No things as right/wrong our attitudes are different, not better.
        • The need for a standard: no objective right and wrong means there's no standards we believe in but they could change due to hatred. Logical consequenceif values are based on opinion.
      • Difficulties for naturalism
        • Rely on purpose built into the universe. Challenged by evolutionists who reject the idea of purpose.
        • Hume finds the difference between factual 'is' judgements and value judgments of ought. Moral judgements like emotion, nothing factual observed-ideas of right and wrong
        • Moore- naturalistic fallacy if we say pleasure is good.
      • Arguing for and against naturalism
        • Advantage over naturalism, avoids ought and naturalistic fallacy, morality objective.
        • Disadvantagedue to differing. Pritchard- some people have better intuition than others.
    • Ethical terms as subjective or meaningless
      • Arguing for and against morality as subjective and meaningless (moral anti-realism)
        • Lack of shared moral values: supporter of emotivism looks at differences in moral value, not similarities.
        • Moral progress: difficult for those who don't believe in moral values to explain moral progress.
        • Need for standard: emotivists etc, lack of standards is a problem.  Attempt to answer through subjective agreement on what's good moral standards.
        • Trivisation: emotivism argues ethics is meaningless/subjective. Morality personal preference than hold the same value.
      • Morality subjective: not based on facts. Difficulties of naturalistic fallacy and is ought gap avoided.
      • Going further: Prescriptivism and error theory
        • Prescriptivism: Hare argues moral statement describe and prescribe our feeling 'killing is wrong'-'I do not approve of killing and you should not either'.
        • Error theory: Mackie argues that there's no moral facts just subjective values when we make moral statements- we speak as if they're actually true/false. Error Belief in objective values built through moral language, belief is rare.
    • What is good?
      • Meta Ethics: above and beyond, studying ethical concerns. What does good mean? Does it actually exist
        • Normative Ethics: considers ethical theories that give us advice on how to behave.
          • Applied Ethics: Discusses specific problems of evil
          • Descriptive Ethics: Explores different empirical views.
      • What is good? is the key question
        • Unclear on what goodness is, difficult to build normative theories on how we should act.
        • Good-different meanings.
        • Addressing what goodness is effect moral motivations. if I believe that the universe has fixed God-given standards then I will be more inclined to do good.
      • What is good? or key question
        • Remote+complex. Little agreement on what it might be.
        • Not excluded from practicalities to make ethical choices.

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