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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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…

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simply a description of the values held by a particular society at a particular

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…

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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
Can support objective theories of morality.
Evidence from psychology or evolutionary biology could
support a form of…

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idea is often supported by anthropologists, considering the
destruction that has taken place when certain societies have
tried to impose their values on another society. This added
development of tolerance is called NORMATIVE RELATIVISM, i.e.
there is a suggestion of a rule on how to behave towards other

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shouting `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.

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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…


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