Meta-Ethics Revision Booklet

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  • Created on: 05-05-16 09:30
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METAETHICS
Metaethics is a way in which scholars discuss terms such as `good' and `bad', and `right'
and `wrong', and whether these terms have any meaning. It differs from normative ethics
rather than deciding what is moral and what is not and how this can be applied to particular
ethical issues, it is concerned with w hat we mean by morality .
Meta ethics covers a variety of
epistemological questions:
What do we mean by `good' and `bad'?
Do such concepts have an existence independent of human feelings?
How is it possible to discover whether they do or not?
COGNITIVISM
Cognitivists believe that moral statements are about facts that describe the world. These
moral statements are based on sense experience and can be verified by empirical data.
Moral concepts are real things to cognitivists there are absolute and objective moral
truths. Statements are either objectively t rue or false .
Morality is too important to be regarded as anything other than objective cognitivism
recognises the importance of moral absolutes.
These moral claims can be tested by human reason and logic humans experience
the world.
Moral statements cannot be objectively real " murder is wrong"
and "London is the
capital of the UK" are very different statements.
How can moral statements describe the world when ideas of morality in the world are
so mixed? For example, some cultures believe that sacrifice is moral, but this does
not describe the whole world.

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NONCOGNITIVISM
Noncognitivists claim that moral statements are simply subjective feelings/opinions, and
therefore cannot be true or false . This is what philosophers call a `rejection of
propositions' noncognitivists do not accept the link between empirical evidence and
proposition statements.
Noncognitivism recognises the difference between fact and opinion.
Doesn't devalue moral statements but recognises that subjective opinions are
valuable in themselves.
Morality is seen as a subjective matter of personal choice which society formulates
into laws for the betterment of the majority's preferences.…read more

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G.E. Moore argued that by identifying goodness with a natural quality you are
committing a naturalistic fallacy.
Right and wrong are subjective, not objective. They only exist because humans exist.
INTUITIONISM
Intuitionists believe that moral statements are true or false and are known by human
intuition . It is a strong absolutist and realist theory. The theory states that moral norms
have an objective existence independent of human experience m orality is intuitive .
G.E.…read more

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Allows for objective moral values to be identified and therefore proposes a form of
moral realism.
Not guilty of the naturalistic fallacy as it separates the natural world from morality.
How can we be sure that we can trust our intuitions? How reliable is it as a guide?
People intuit and reason to different conclusions ­ not universal.
Intuitionism would be considered a meaningless concept by Logical Positivists, since
it is nonverifiable.…read more

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Allows for the development of a complex and sophisticated discussion of moral
language.
Assumes that ethical statements are not the same as empirically verifiable facts.
Stresses the importance of a person's individual moral feelings.
Can morality really be reduced to something as simple as hurrah/boo?
Emotivism reduces moral reactions about atrocities such as genocide, murder and
rape to subjective personal feelings.
Just because you have an emotion that something is wrong does not logically mean
that others should agree.
PRESCRIPTIVISM
R.M.…read more

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