IB Metaethics revision of Ethical Naturalism (Universalism), Moral Relativism, and Emotivism (non-cognitivism)

Description of Ethical Naturalism, Moral Relativism and Emotivism, strengths and weaknesses.

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Preview of IB Metaethics revision of Ethical Naturalism (Universalism), Moral Relativism, and Emotivism (non-cognitivism)

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Metaethics
Ethical theories can be....
Cognitive: Moral statements are propositions that can be true or false, e.g.
Natural Law, Kantian Ethics, Utilitarianism.
Non-cognitive: Moral statements are not propositions. They do not express
beliefs that can be true or false, e.g. emotivism.
Objective: Concepts of right and wrong are universal and not subject to
differing circumstances, e.g. ethical naturalism (ethical judgements follow
directly from scientifically discoverable facts ­ often facts about human
nature).
Subjective: Concepts of right and wrong are dependent on our own views,
e.g. moral relativism (moral facts are relative to time and place, morality is

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Prescriptive: Moral statements are prescriptions for actions, e.g. `giving to
charity is good' has the prescriptive meaning `give to charity', virtue ethics
could possibly be a prescriptive theory.
Descriptive: Moral statements describe moral judgments, which can be
either true or false.
Absolute: The moral code is true in all situations, e.g. we must never lie, no
matter what the circumstances.
Relative: The truth of the moral code depends on circumstances, e.g. lying
might be right in one circumstance and wrong in the other.…read more

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The domain of moral value is to be seen as simply a part of
the familiar natural world, known about simply in the
familiar, broadly empirical ways we know about the natural
world.
Can support objective theories of morality.
Evidence from psychology or evolutionary biology could
support a form of morality based on scientifically
observable facts, i.e. if genetics has a role in moral decision
making then it would seem that morality was not only
similar between people (i.e.…read more

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This added
development of tolerance is called NORMATIVE RELATIVISM, i.e.
there is a suggestion of a rule on how to behave towards other
societies.
Strengths:
Accounts for obvious differences between individuals and
cultures, e.g. different views of abortion.
Promotes attitude of tolerance, although this could lead to
difficulties (see below).
Supported by anthropology, different cultures have
developed in different ways.
Weaknesses:
Normative relativism claims that all moral judgements are
relative to your society and also that societies shouldn't
interfere with each other.…read more

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Boo torture!' or `Hooray charity!', this is why emotivism
is often referred to as the `Boo/Hoorah theory'. Not only are they
simply expressing their opinions in the form of a moral statement,
but they often try to persuade others to feel the same, i.e. to share
their feelings.
Strengths:
It highlights the reason why moral debates are often
impossible to resolve
It acknowledges and, to a certain extent, encourages the
existence of moral diversity
Weaknesses:
If it were true, all moral argument would seem impossible.…read more

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Evaluative Premise: Pain is wrong. (moral fact)
Conclusion: Torture is wrong.
Hume, and many other philosophers to date, have argued that naturalistic ethical
theories are based on a fundamental mistake: they have ignored that facts and
values are different sorts of things. Anti-naturalists argue that no factual
description ever leads automatically to any value judgement: further argument is
always needed.…read more

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