Meta Ethics Essay Sample

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  • Category: morality

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Explain how meta-ethics is different from normative ethics. (33)

Normative ethical theories are different moral codes of behaviour, the principles we might out into action, the rules by which we might live, the criteria we might use when making moral judgement. Utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, religious ethics, situation ethics, virtue ethics and natural law are all example of normative theories of ethics, they try to shoe us how to behave. normative ethical theories debate at ways we should of deciding what was ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ believing them to have an absolute value. Where as…

Meta ethics is a term used to describe the study of the meaning of ethical languages. What we are doing when we use words such as ‘Good’? Are we expressing our feelings of approval? Meta ethical philosophers try work out what we are doing when we use moral language, because if there is no agreement about the meaning of ethical language, then ethical debates are pointless and will never achieve anything.

There are four main parts to Meta ethics, naturalism, intuitionism, Emotivism, and prescriptivism.

Naturalism is moral facts that can be deduced through science and logic from the world around us. naturalism was produced by F.H.Bradley who thought that ethical words like ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ can be defined, through observation of the natural world, in the same way we define ‘maths’ or ‘science’.

You can clearly see what you ought to do by observing your position in society and. your duty was to know yourself and then do your duty. Morals can be based on the same kind of observation of the world as used on science.

Intuitionism is a special sense for detecting morality. Intuitionism was produced by G.E. Moore. Moore thought that naturalists had made a mistake , and that moral statements cannot be verified simply by looking at the evidence available to the five senses and in the way we observe the physical aspects of the universe. You cannot see wrongness in the way you can see bread rising. This mistake is know as the ‘Naturalistic Fallacy’.

Moore believed that we cannot use our five senses to tell us whether something is good, but we can use our moral intuition. We can know what good is through our knowledge of good things, we recognize goodness when we see it, and just know that it is good.

Emotivism is the idea that all moral statements are expressions of feeling and are meaningless . Emotivism was produced by A.J. Ayer. Emotivism is the view that when we make moral statements suc

h as ‘abortion as wrong’, we are not talking about facts that can be known, we are infat

just expressing emotions or feeling about the situation.

Ayer believed that facts are either observable or logically necessary; moral statements are neither. They cannot be sientifically or logically proven. They are emotive expressions. Stevenson deleloped this idea, saying moral statements express subjective beliefs.

Prescriptivism is the idea that moral statements instruct behaviour or hope to lead to behaviour. Prescriptivism was produced by R.M. Hare

B) ‘Everyone knows what good means.’ Discuss. (17)

Many would agree with this statement such as Normative ethical theories like Utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, religious ethics, situation ethics, virtue ethics and natural law. These theories try to show us how to behave, and debate at ways we should know what is ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ believing them to have an absolute value. And therefore everyone knows what good is and normative ethical theories just simply shows use a good way to behave and what is ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

Natural Law holds that there is a good natural order to the human world which ought to be followed. Therefore natural law says that everyone should know what good is and follow the natural rules to keep the goodness.

Utilitarianism maintains that an action is right if it produces the greatest good for the gretest number. Therefore utilitarianism states that everyone knows what good is to be able to judge if an action produces it or not.

Situation ethics argues that the morrally right/good thing to do is infact most loving to do in the particular situation. Therfore situation ethics also states that everyone knows what good is to beable to choose what the most good and loving thing to do in every situation.

Virtue ethics claims that being good requires the practise of a certain kind of behaviour. This therefore shows also that everyone must know what good is to be able to practise being good using a certain kind of behavior.

Also some meta ethical theories such as, Intuitionism agrees with the statement as it sates that through our knowledge of good things, we recognize goodness when we see it, and just know that it is good.

Also Naturalism which sates that ethical words like ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ can be defined, through observation of the natural world

However many would also disagree such as some Meta ethical theories which is the study of the meaning of ethical languages. What we are doing when we use words such as ‘Good’? Are we expressing our feelings of approval? Meta ethical philosophers try work out what we are doing when we use moral language, because if there is no agreement about the meaning of ethical language, then ethical debates are pointless and will never achieve anything.

Emotivism which states that when we make moral statements such as ‘being kind is good’, we are not talking about facts that can be known, we are infact just expressing emotions or feeling about the situation .Facts are either observable or logically necessary; moral statements are neither. They cannot be scientifically or logically proven. They are emotive expressions. Stevenson developed this idea, saying moral statements express subjective beliefs.

Moore thought that there is a difference between good things and goodness itself. An action may be good because it is an act of generosity, but good isn’t identical to generosity.

When we add ‘good’ to a sentence it has an affect that is different to that of the adjectives. A good knife is better than a bad knife, but when we use the word good we are probably talking about sharpness or shininess, however a good knife isn’t morally better than a bad knife. We may use a good knife to stab someone, which is a morally bad thing to do.

When we are calling someone good we are saying something very different from calling them ‘tall’ or ‘short’. We may be referring to their character, or the kind things they do. The moral sense of good refers to actions, consequences, situations, people, characters, choices and lifestyles.

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