Meta-Ethics and Normative Ethics - The Differences

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Normative ethics: the area of ethics that attempts to discuss whether something is right or wrong, good or bad.

Empirical evidence: information that is gained using sensory data (ie. what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch).

Cognitive: a statement that is subject to being true or false. For example, 'the cat is asleep on the chair'.

Non-cognitive: a statement that is not subject to truth or falsity. For example, 'hurray' or 'ouch'.

Analytic statements: statements that are true by definition, eg. 1+1=2.

Synthetic statements: statements in which the predicate is not a necessary part of the description, eg. 'The mermaid has a large comb'.

  • Normative ethics deals with what things are right and wrong.
  • They help people to understand what is right and moral and what is wrong and immoral.
  • Meta-ethical statements deal with what it means to claim that something is right or wrong.
  • In fact meta-ethics is closely linked to normative ethics and trying to understand the meanings of the terms in the theories.
  • In the statement 'this is a good gun', normative ethics would explore whether the gun is morally good, whilst meta-ethics would try to understand what we means…


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