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Examine Different Ways In Which the Word "Good" is Used In Meta-Ethics

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R.S. Homework 1. Examine Different Ways In Which the Word "Good" is Used In Meta-Ethics Meta-ethics is the defining of the language used in normative ethics, like right or wrong, "good" or bad. It is "Wholly concerned with analysing the language people use when discussing any moral issue" (Vardy). Different modern empiricists have very different views on whether it is possible to define what the meaning of ""good"", and if so, what it's meaning is. G.E. Moore, an Intuitionist believed that "goodness" could not be defined in terms of anything else. He believed that because what is "good" cannot be proved empirically, we must use our intuition to help us know what is "good". He would argue that we cannot understand the definition of "goodness" through intuition, or ever prove what is right or wrong in ethics. He thought that we cannot derive an "ought" from an "is", because we cannot define what "good" is, so how can we possibly know what "ought" to be done. He had a teleological view to intuitionism, in that he believed that we can only understand what is "good" through its end effect. ...read more.


C.L. Stevenson had a similar point of view- he believed that moral language is non-cognitive, but we use it to convey persuasive definitions- for instance, although non-consensual sex and rape have the same meaning, we use the latter to display a disgust and disapproval, it is a persuasive definition. R.M. Hare was another logical positivist, he believed in prescriptivism; that we use moral language to persuade others to believe in the same moral values as ourselves, and to follow our lead. To say that "rape is a disgusting action in which the offender is nothing more than a cowardly pervert" is not just a statement, but also an attempt to prescribe your views to other people, and thus hope they will follow your point of view and not commit rape. Throughout meta-ethics, the word "good" is understood to be indefinable. However the main difference between intuitionism and logical positivism is that most intuitionists believe that we can do "good" through using our intuition, whereas logical positivists denounce the word "good" in the first place- stating that it is meaningless, and that in doing "good", we are only doing what we approve of, and there is no more depth to the morality of the situation than that. ...read more.


This seems extremely flawed for it could be acceptable to believe that everybody is entitled to his or her opinion, but to state that every opinion is correct, regardless of whether they involve saving humanity or destroying the universe is extremely foolish. It is simply a way of avoiding moral dilemma's or conflicts, and as a meta-ethical view, it creates more problems than it solves. A societal view would be that whatever a certain culture believes is "good" is in fact good society. This statement however takes it a step further, and states that each individual person's point of view on what is right or wrong is what that person should be judged by. Both arguments fail at the same point; whether "good" is definable or not, murder and protecting life cannot both be good. In this sense we cannot derive an "is" from an "ought", so we can either state people's beliefs, and leave it at that, because any further insight would be nonsensical, or we can take a normative view on whether what they are doing is right or not, but to state that everything that anybody approves of is "good" simply contradicts the foundations of meta-ethics. Luke Hodgkinson J6 LAK ...read more.

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