Meta- Ethics Quick Revision

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  • Created on: 29-05-15 11:50
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Cognitive Theories
What is the role of language in cognitive theories?
Cognitivists believe that moral statements in some way describe the world. For
example, abortion is wrong has given abortion the property of wrongness. This moral
statement is objectively true or false.
We all have moral knowledge, and that ethical statements are factual and can be
proven true or false.
What is Ethical Naturalism?
This theory believes all ethical statements are the same as non-ethical(factual) ones.
This means that they can be proven/disproven- statements can be proven right or wrong.
To know is something is wrong or right, you look at the evidence... and verify or falsify
the statement.
What are the criticisms of Ethical Naturalism?
G. E. Moore- to claim moral statements can be verified and falsified is to commit the
naturalistic fallacy.
Hume- you cannot derive an `ought' from an `is'.
What is the Open Question Argument?
Created by G. E. Moore. Moving from factual statements to moral ones does not work
be used it leaves an open question that has not been answered.
'This was good' is open to the possibility of people holding different views. You cannot
simply move from one to another.
It is still ok to ask the question but it cannot be proven in the same way. Ethical
statements are open questions.
Moore argued that for any property it makes sense to ask- 'is it good?'. The fact we
ask such questions shoes that 'good' and 'bad' cannot be names of natural property.
They are not open to personal interpretation in the same way.
What is Intuitionism, according to Moore?
Moore- "Good is a simple, unanalysable property, just like a primary colour'.
Moore adopted some forms of utilitarianism in that he said right acts should produce
the most amount of good.
He argued that we cannot use our senses to tell if something is good. We can use our
'moral intuition', and so can say whether a moral statement is true or false.

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We can recognise when something is good, we know `good' when we see it.
He explained this by saying- trying to define `good' is like trying to describe the colour
yellow you cannot define yellow simply through works but via example.
What is intuitionism, according to H. A. Pritchard?
He agreed with Moore, but also identified two types of thinking: reason and intuition.
Reason examines the facts of the situation and intuition tells us what to do.…read more

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Non-Cognitive Theories
What is Logical Positivism?
Any truth claim must be tested by sense experience-> verification principle-> since
ethical statements cannot be tested by sense experience, they are not genuine truth claims
and therefore can only express feelings.
Ayer stated that there were only two types of meaningful statement: analytic and
synthetic. Ethical statements are neither true of themselves or verifiable by evidence are
such just expressions of emotion- Boo/Hurrah Theory.…read more

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What is Prescriptivism, according to R. M. Hare?
Hare took a silly different angle to ethical language. Argued that ethical language is
prescriptive, states what ought to be done, and are moral be has they are universal. Ethical
statements do not state facts and are not true or false.
They are expressions of our will/wishes, when we use a terms like 'good' we related
that to a certain set of standards.…read more


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