Meta Ethics

  • Created by: nadia510
  • Created on: 16-04-17 16:31
Statements of fact
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We intuitively know what is good/bad but we can't describe it
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All (moral) statements are emotions
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Ethical terms are emotive but we also prescribe these to others
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Cognitive language
Moral statements describe the world and are true or false
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Non-cognitive language
Moral statements are not descriptive, true or false
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Criticisms of naturalism
The natural fallacy & Hume's is-ought argument
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G E Moore's intuitionism
Good is indefinable, there are objective moral truths, we know what these truths are through reason
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H A Pritchard's intuitionism
Obligations are as indefinable as good, intuition decides what to do in a situation, some people's intuition is better developed than others
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W D Ross' intuitionism
Prima Facie duties are right, judgement must be used to decide what to do in any situation, one duty can be rejected in favour of another
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Criticisms of intuitionism
Different people have different intuitions - whose is right? Moral intuition seems to come largely from social conditioning and differs between cultures
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A J Ayer's emotivism
When we talk about good/bad we are merely expressing emotions of approval/disapproval (boo/hurrah theory) words like good are meaningless, ethical statements = expressions of emotion, ethical statements can't be validated
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C L Stevenson's emotivism
Ethical statements are attitudes based on beliefs about the world, they're attempts to influence that views of others, they're subjective opinions
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Criticisms of emotivism
Moral judgements appeal to reason and not just expressions of feeling, if not they're arbitrary. All emotivism can do is draw attention to the reason why people have different views and then let others decide
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R M Hare's prescriptivism
Ethical statements are expressions of opinion, they're also universal, tey''re not just expressing our views but prescribing them to others
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Criticisms of prescriptivism
If moral judgements are founded on prescriptions, there is still no valid reason for following one person's over another's -> means morals aren't universal. No objective claims and therefore no moral knowledge/truth
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Strengths of intuitionism
Many societies share moral values, humans are thought to have an innate moral sense, no god is requires, relativist, according to Ross prima facies are self evident and therefore easily discoverable
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Weaknesses of intuitionism
Intuitionists can't agree among themselves, implies some universal morality, different intuitions, no link between what is right and wrong and what we ought to do (Mackie)
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Strengths of emotivism
Scientific approach to language is accepted, distinction between ethical statements and verifiable facts, importance of individual's feelings is stressed, people can differ in how they respond (Stevenson)
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Weaknesses of emotivism
Language may not be about verifiability, just because you feel something is wrong doesn't mean others should agree, possible to feel something is right and it be morally worng
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Strengths of prescriptivism
Encourages moral action because sentiment is not sufficient, ethical actions must be consistent, contributes to communities, moral agent cannot be hypocritical
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weaknesses of prescriptivism
Hare's rules allow us to universalise anything and make it moral, may not be applicable to non-christians, ableist, no ethical authority
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We intuitively know what is good/bad but we can't describe it

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Cognitive language


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