Meta ethics

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  • Meta-ethics
    • Ethical naturalism/non-naturalism
      • Ethical naturalism suggests words such as 'good' + 'bad' = verifiable by sense experience.
      • Non-naturalism = idea that these words ('good' + 'bad') = indefinable/indescribable
      • Words i.e. 'good' and 'bad', = real + provable
      • Same way we use evidence to verify factual statements, we can verify ethical statements in same way
      • Thus we can look at genetic research + evidence such as fact it saves lives + helps people, + fact it is good can be proved
      • G. E. Moore
        • He likened word good with colour yellow. We cannot explain it but only give example of yellow things
        • Moore rejected naturalism - because it equated moral things with natural things
      • STRENGTH: gives factual meaning to statments. we are not dealing with 'grey areas' in ethical debate'. The open q argument - if it is reasonabel to q whether property exists, it cannot be natural property. "Is it smooth" = unreasonable, whereas, "is it good" is reasonable
      • WEAKNESS:  makes ethical debate difficult - if our intuition perceives things differently, it is difficult to know which is right + is difficult to argue against
    • Intuitionism
      • Intuitionism = theory accredited to Pritchard + Ross. It suggests that we understand basic moral principles using a special faculty called moral intuition
      • Pritchard
        • Pritchard developed Morre's ideas + said that not only were ethical words indescribable, but so were ethical obligations. We always know when we should do a certain act
        • He believed it was joining of reasoning + intuition - everyone has a differently developed moral faculty however
      • Ross
        • Agreed with Pritachrd that 'good' + 'obligatory; = indefinable, but that our moral obligations are nevertheless apparent + must be followed
        • Our intuition identifies 'prima facie duties' - self-improvement, gratitude + justice - we make moral decisions based on these. When they clash, we choose greater duty.
        • WEAKNESS - Ross doesn't tell us which are greater/more important duties
    • Emotivism
      • Emotivism = theory developed by AYER and STEVENSON, It claims ethical statements = an expression of emotion + personal feeling
      • Ayer
        • Suggests that statements can be verified analytically or synthetically. Religious + ethical statements = neither + cannot be verified
        • These statements = instead evincing emotions of approval/disapproval, which others do not feel. We simply express our like or dislike for something
      • Stevenson
        • Looked at meaning of words + how they affect others when used. Concluded they = intended to influence the views of others
          • Gives more meaning to moral debate as we aren't simply stating our emotions but influencing other to see our point of view
            • This = fundamentally what ethical disagreements are, conflicting beliefs + opinions
      • WEAKNESS: is it even a theory? if t is all emotion, it tells us noting of ethics at all
        • RACHELS - believed it was incorrect to remove reasoning from ethical judgments, as without this judgments become arbitrary and pointless
    • Prescriptivism
      • Prescriptivism was a theory developed by HARE. He believed ethical lang was used in an attempt to make others hold same value + take a similar course of action in same situation
      • Hare believed ethical lang was intrinsically prescriptive + implies what ought to be done
      • He also believed ethical lang was universal, as what is right for one person in one situation is right for all people in all situations
      • Hare disagreed with subjective moral statements as he believed that only objective  moral statments could be imperative + commanding
      • Despite this, Hare didnt see his appraoch as expressing cogntiive moral truths, but a way of expressing wishes and beliefs
      • This theory isn't just about telling others what to do - we must also adopt any behaviour + action that we see fit for others to do
      • Mackie - believes moral statements = not universal. In practice, people have different preferences + choices
        • Differences such as culture are not taken into account in the universal element


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