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"Examine the different ways in which 'good' is used in meta-ethics."

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Introduction

Meta-ethics June 2001- a) "Examine the different ways in which 'good' is used in meta-ethics." Meta-ethics is the study of the meaning of moral language. It describes presuppositions and language of morality. There are a number of different ethical theories for the meaning of good used in meta-ethics. The four main headings under which most acceptable theories can fit under in some shape or form. These are Ethical Naturalism (or Definism), Intuitionism, Emotivism and Presciptivism. Definism theory states that all ethical statements are similar to non-ethical statements and can, therefore, be approached in the same way. In the same way that we can verify a scientific fact, ethical naturalism theory states that we can verify an ethical statement. They are both prepositional. Definism states that ethical statements are just a type of short hand for more complex propositions. So therefore, in terms of Ethical Naturalism, if I were to use the term 'good' in a number of examples, it would just be a 'summary' word to sum up all the other words I wish to have incorporated into my sentence. ...read more.

Middle

A similar theory to Intuitionism is Emotivism. An Emotivist believes that moral judgements simply express our feelings on a subject. If someone were to claim something was 'good', an Emotivist would see this as an emotional exclamation, not a truth claim, and would take it to mean that the person approves of the thing/action/person etc. Another fairly similar theory is Prescriptivism. Prescriptivists believe that in using moral language such as 'good/bad' or 'right/wrong,' we are simply prescribing our opinions. In other words were are saying, 'do this, and let everyone do the same in the same situation.' Therefore, if someone were to say 'giving to charity is good,' what he or she is really saying is 'you ought to give to charity.' This again, means that 'good' not used as a universal truth, but in this case it is used as a universal prescription. In summary: in Definism, the term 'good' is simply a 'short hand' for more complex propositions that apply to that particular example. In Intuitionism holds that good in indefinable and therefore has no universal meaning. ...read more.

Conclusion

The first would be to question the number of people included in the generalization of the word 'people.' If the sentence is intended to mean, "if anybody approves of something, it must be socially approved", then the statement is not true. However, we can also take the sentence to mean, "If the majority of people within a society approve of something, then it is said to be socially approved." If we swap 'good' back into the sentence we end up with a statement that looks like this: " if the majority of people within a society approve of something then it is good." Thus we have formed the central principle of Cultural relativism. In terms of the other theories that define 'good', only one can be applied. Definism would argue that the statement is simply a short hand for more complex propositions. So in this case, 'good' is used to mean 'beneficial' or 'correct.' Since this is possibly true, Ethical naturalists would have a fairly strong argument here. Emotivism, Intuitionism or Prescriptivism cannot really apply here as they are all subjective and based on opinion and in this case good cannot be used an exclamation of opinion. ?? ?? ?? ?? Charlie Matthews 12CAS 28/04/2007 1 of 2 ...read more.

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