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

Explain what is meant by the term meta ethics

Extracts from this document...


Explain what is meant by the term meta-ethics Meta-ethics is the term used for discussions about the nature and validity of ethical statements. Meta-ethics is a branch of ethics used to try to describe the meaning of words such as good, bad and other words used in ethical debates. Meta-ethical questions are about the validity of ethical questions, or how 'good' should be defined. Firstly there are normative ethics. These were mostly used until the end of the nineteenth century. Normative ethics is where actions are assessed according to ethical theories. Normative ethics decides how people should act and how moral choices should be made. Normative ethics asks which things are good and which things are bad, what kind of behaviour is right and which is wrong. A question that would be a normative ethical question would look something like this; "is sex before marriage right?" a normative statement presents the listener or reader with clearer ideas about what is held to be right or wrong. There are also descriptive ethics. ...read more.


The other approach is ethical non-naturalism. Having this approach you believe that good cannot be defined in terms of looking at something in the world and comparing it to that, like naturalists do. In other words, non-naturalists believe that ethical statements cannot be described by non-ethical ones. G. E. Moore is one of the most well known non-naturalists. Together with David Hume they believed that you cannot define 'good' in terms of some more basic fact or idea, and that values were applied to facts, not discovered among them. Ethical non-naturalism does not deny the meaningfulness of ethical statements but points out that they cannot be defined or proven by reference to facts. G. E. Moore also developed the idea of intuitionism and that we all know what good means because we have an intuition which lets us know what is good and what is not. He believed that 'good' was the quality that things possessed, but it wasn't a quality that could be defined, yet it was a quality that we all naturally recognize and understand. ...read more.


This meant that both religious and ethical claims were meaningless, because they were neither a priori nor a posteriori. A J Ayer also tried to explain what the term 'good' and 'bad' means. He named his theory emotivism. He believed that ethical language was meaningless, and that saying something was 'good' was basically saying that they approved of it, and saying that something was 'bad' was saying that they disapproved of it. He believed that there is no factual evidence, because it is based on people's emotions and personal values. There is also prescriptivism. R. M. Hare suggested that moral statements were actually doing more that expressing a personal value; they were suggesting that other people, in similar situations, should apply the same value and follow the same course of action. In other words to say that something is right or good is to recommend that other people do it. This theory is called prescriptivism because it prescribes a course of action. ?? ?? ?? ?? Aleks Plesniak ...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. Religious Language cannot be proved, therefore it is meaningless

    For verificationists, it is irrelevant whether a statement is true, the important factor lies in whether the statement is meaningful. The verification principle states that only assertions which could be verified through observation or experience could convey factual information and thus be meaningful.

  2. What is meant by Meta Ethics? Meta ethics helps to establish what constitutes ...

    Finally there are meaningless statements which unlike the term suggests are not meaningless but are statements which cannot be tested. These are often statements of opinion which cannot be proved or disproved therefore they do not say anything about moral ethics, but only show that of emotivism.

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

    Emotivism believes that morals do not exist and that sentiment is the source of right and wrong e.g. you help a person out of compassion or feelings, not reason or scientific fact. Emotivism also suggests that moral arguments have no real purpose because they are simply an expression of emotions.

  2. Business Ethics

    The professional accounting bodies are quick and rather proactive in combating unethical behavior amongst practitioners. This is to ensure that public confidence on the profession remained high. They were concerned not only to ensure that members adhered to the rules, standards and the general legal procedures, but also to see

  1. Business Ethics

    Companies try to implement the first strategy, where whistle blowing is authorised to the employees according to a policy, which the firm can control. The policy is as important as its aim. It must be clear and easy to understand.

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

    then how can we really be sure of anything in the world? Is the rightness and wrongness of murder, for example, simply a matter of how we feel on the subject? If so, what is the point of certain rules and laws?

  1. The Ethical Debate Concerning Cloning.

    John of Jerusalem. We have a growing number of men in nurses' training these days (a kind of unisex counterpart to the young women going into doctors' training), but like so many other so-called new departures, they really are only a return to ancient examples.

  2. what is meant by meta-ethics?

    Although "murder is wrong" and "grass is green" are grammatically similar they are not saying the same sort of thing; moral beliefs are merely psychological, and - unlike "grass is green" - "murder is wrong" cannot be proven. Hume also says that we can't use logic or reason prove moral

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