• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. Explain and discuss the four major theories of meta-ethics; Naturalism, Emotivism, Intuitionism and Prescriptivism.

    More recent theories such as chaos theory are challenging naturalism, this means that to secure ethics/naturalism to science saying that morals can be proven leaves it vulnerable to new scientific discoveries, and the basic fact that sometimes science can be wrong, I which case it leaves may people wondering if science can be proven wrong, can morals be wrong?

  2. Explain the importance of good will in Kant's ethical theory.

    would never permit euthanasia. For Kant, there is an objective moral law that we know through reason. Moral rules exist and that they are binding. In his writing, Kant identified three principles in the categorical imperative (two of which are of importance to the argument concerning euthanasia)

  1. Discuss some of the issues raised in Meta-Ethics. How convincing is the view that, ...

    language called 'Prescriptivism', in which he claimed that in prescribing a particular course of action for others, people ought to ask 'Am I prepared to prescribe that somebody else should do it to me if the roles were reversed?'. (Interestingly, this idea is parallel with the golden rule of Christianity

  2. Business Ethics

    An accountant has to be seen as independent and a person of high integrity and objectivity. Finally, the code requires that accountants must be professional, in that, they must, not only be skillful, knowledgeable and qualified, but also respected as one who are always current in their knowledge and whom

  1. Explain what scholars mean when they say that ethical statements are no more than ...

    To simply say "Caring for your children - hurrah!" ignores these important points. When we talk about the "Boo-Hurrah Theory", we may be tempted to ask whether it actually constitutes an ethical theory at all. The whole idea seems rather crude and infantile, reducing matters of serious moral importance to a simple 'yay' or 'nay'.

  2. The Ethical Debate Concerning Cloning.

    The St. Mark's Hospital is the earliest hospital in the city and is affiliated with the Episcopal Church. The speech was part of a continuing program connected with the dedication and was sponsored by the hospital's medical staff, headed by Dr.

  1. Evaluate Korsgaard's discussion of the Universalizability Argument. In what ways does she conform with ...

    for her, Kant does not clearly show the difference and the relation between them. The categorical imperative does not imply the moral law. The categorical imperative is the law of free will and it does not establish the moral law as law of free will.

  2. With reference to the topic of abortion , examine and comment on the controversies, ...

    It is not as if the woman is being forced to keep the baby, her body naturally maintains the pregnancy. There are a lot of medical procedures that are elective, and by not having them it does not mean you are a slave.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work