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Charlotte Round

Meta-ethics revision notes!

What does it mean to say that something is right or wrong? What do the words that are used
in the debate actually mean?

Meta-ethics looks at the basis on which ethical theories are derived. It also provides
opportunity for philosophers agree the terms by…

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A naturalistic view of ethics argues that, once verified by nature, moral statements are
objectively true.

David Hume; Hume claimed the attempt to go from what is to what ought to be is a
fundamental mistake.

We could say `children are starving' (which is a fact) and `you ought to…

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natural terms proposed by ethical naturalism produce open questions. Moore
believes that no proposed natural property can pass the test of the open question
argument. This implies that all moral theories fail that are based on anything other than
moral intuition. It is only of secondary importance whether an action…

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W.D.Ross;

Had similar ideas to Moore and Pritchard. Ross believed moral principles are not absolute or
defined in natural terms. Ross developed the idea of prima-facie duties (meaning duties we
have at first sight). In any situation we only have which are apparent.

1. Promise keeping
2. Reparation for harm…

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Emotivism;

"Boo-Hurrah theory" Emotivism is the idea that the meaning of ethical language is not
knowledgeable as its use is only an expression of emotion.

A.J Ayer;

For Ayer, the claim `murder is wrong' is not based on any objective moral principle. We are
simply saying `I don't like murder',…

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Stevenson is able to explain complex meaning of ethical terms ­ emphasising
underlying definitions and beliefs
Peter Vardy criticises Ayers emotivism as he says it is an ethical `non-theory' because
it only deals with emotions. It doesn't address whether something is ethical or not.
James Rachels criticises emotivism for removing…

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we live by, but the standards apply universally. If you think it's wrong for someone to
steal from you, you must think it is wrong for you to steal from someone.

Prescriptivism finds a place for reason in moral debate (unlike emotivism)
Prescriptivism see's a guiding aspect, rather then influencing…

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