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Slide 1

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Ethical language
Aristotle- something is good if it fulfils it's
purpose. Because everything has a final
cause, it is possible to discern what is good
by looking at the apparent purpose that a
thing is to be put to.…read more

Slide 2

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· ethical terms cannot be defined, since the properties ascribed to them, such as good
can also be defined in non-ethical terms.
· Moore- good is simply a non-natural, indefinable quality, which is known through
intuition. `you can no more define good than you can define yellow' this was because
any definition of good would necessarily limit the concept, and make it apply in only
a few situations- Naturalistic fallacy.
· You may know what good is, but you cannot define it.
· Moore believed that you could not use a non-ethical (natural) term to explain an
ethical (non-natural) term. In other words, you cannot use desire, which is a natural
thing we all experience, to explain what `good' means. If you do try, you end up with
what is called a tautology, or circular argument. For example, if I ask "what is good?"
and you answer "happiness is good" I am left with the statement "the good is
happiness because it is good to be happy". I am no closer to understanding what the
good is. This is what is known as the Naturalistic Fallacy: that you cannot get an
ought from an is.
· Moore argues that "good is good, and that is the end of the matter".
· Pritchard- moral obligation was just as irreducible , you cannot derive an ought from
an is.
· Ross argues that there is a thing called `rightness' which exists and like the good in
Moore and duty in Prichard, right is indefinable. But Ross effectively argued that
there is an objective principle of rightness. Actions can be judged to be right and that
it is our moral intuition that tells us whether or not an action is right.…read more

Slide 3

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Is-ought gap
· Is- descriptive, matter of fact, analytical. Ought-
prescriptive, Suggestions of Conjecture. The is-
ought gap claims that one cannot move from a
factual statement about the world such as `John
was killed' to an ought statement (a moral shove,
or statement about how the world should be)
such as `you ought not to kill.' Hume- there is
nothing in a descriptive statement that allows us
to proceed from what people actually do to
making it a rule about what people ought to do.…read more

Slide 4

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Hume's fork
· separate ethical and factual language.
· ethical principles have no basis in reality, but merely are the
expressions of people's emotions and sentiments.
· Hume's fork states that there are only two types of meaningful
statement, those that deal with experience (synthetic statements)
or those that deal with definitions (analytic statements). Ought
statements don't seem to fit into these categories. This poses us
with a problem, as if ought statements cannot be verified then
they have no meaning and this means that the whole basis of
morality is shaky.
· If I cannot say to someone `you ought not to steal' society is in
danger of becoming an awful place. The complete separation of is
and ought is referred to as Hume's guillotine…read more

Slide 5

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· the view that morals can be understood purely as emotional responses
· We make moral judgements based on feelings, feelings lead to actions,
expressing our emotions on a subject, trying to encourage others to feel
the same way.
· Ayer- moral judgements are not propositions at all- they are not true or
false. They do not describe anything, not even the feelings of the speaker.
They are more like exclamations.
· Instead, Ayer believed that ethical statements express subjective feelings
of approval or disapproval and little else. This is why emotivism is often
known as `boo-hurrah ethics'. Ayer claimed that if I make a statement
such as "killing is bad", I am only saying "boo" to killing. Conversely, if I say
"giving money to charity is good", I am effectively saying "hurrah for giving
to charity".
· intended to arouse feelings as well as expressing them and that they
operate (to varying degrees) as commands. He distinguishes between
three different levels of strength of command `duty' is the strongest,
`ought' is less strong and `good' is not much of a command at all.…read more

Slide 6

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· Opinion shaped by belief, not just emotions
· Stevenson's emotive theory is synthetic, as
goodness can be either right or wrong; it is an
interest theory because it states that the word
`good' arouses our interest through
magnetism it also agrees with Ayer that good
is not verifiable by scientific method.
· Stevenson says that when we say that
something is `good' we are attempting to
persuade others of our opinion…read more


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