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Explain what scholars mean when they say that ethical statements are no more than expression of opinions.

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Introduction

Explain what scholars mean when they say that ethical statements are no more than expression of opinions. (33) Before this question can be answered, terms such as meta- ethics and theories associated with this topic must be explained to ensure that all the terms are understood in the correct way. Meta- Ethics explores the meaning and function of moral language. Instead of looking at whether abortion is right or wrong, meta- ethics looks at methods to use and how to approach the issue. Meta- ethics is important because if there is 'no agreement about the meaning of ethical language (some argue that it has no real meaning at all), then ethical debate is pointless and will never achieve anything.'(1) Meta- ethics looks at questions like, What, if anything, do we mean when we use words such as 'good' or 'bad, 'right' or 'wrong?' When we use these words, what are we doing? Are we expressing our approval? And do we all mean the same when we say something is good? This is harder to answer than it first appears. A meta- ethical theory, unlike a normative ethical theory, does not contain any ethical evaluations. Some of the approaches used are divided into cognitivist and non- cognitivist views. Cognitivist views hold the opinion that moral statements are about facts, things that are true or false. ...read more.

Middle

(6) Moral Skepticism: holds the view that ethical statements are generally false. 'We can not sufficiently justify any ethical claims, and therefore maintain doubt about whether they are true or false.' (5) So when scholars say ethical statements are no more than expressions of opinions they could be correct, but at the same time they could be erroneous. Moral subjectivism would back up the claim that ethical statements are expressions of opinion because subjectivism states that things are true or false dependant upon the individual. So if person X thinks abortion is wrong, then that's their opinion, and if person Y thinks abortion is justifiable, then it's their opinion so it is also correct. So therefore, ethical statements are opinions based upon the individual and therefore, opinions would differ from place to place. On the other hand, ethical naturalism says that it is possible to establish moral facts, so therefore, ethical statements must be more than opinions otherwise it would not be possible to determine this. Naturalism is well presented in the works of Mill. G.E.Moore argues that 'ethical naturalism makes a mistake, and that moral statements cannot be verified simply by looking at the evidence available.' (1) This mistake is known as the 'Naturalistic Fallacy.' Non- cognitivism (emotivism) ...read more.

Conclusion

If not, then ethical statements could be like expressions of feelings, as everyone's would be different. Moore believed that it is still possible for us to decide whether moral statement is true or false, even if we cannot use our powers of observation to give us the answers. According to Moore, we cannot use our five senses to determine whether something's right or wrong, but use our 'moral intuition.' 'There is no way that we can explain yellow, especially to someone who has never seen it, and if we try to say what it is like, we end up giving examples of yellow things rather than defining yellow itself; but we still know what's yellow when we see it.' (1) It could be said that it is just not a matter of opinion, but something that we can be certain about. In conclusion, I think ethical statements are more than just matters of opinion and I think certain theories within this, for example emotivism, takes away the value ethical statements should bare. Although certain theories like intuitionism have some truth, it is hard to pin point the 'exact truth' as there are so many different opinions and theories to consider. Therefore, it could be considered ethical statements are mere expressions of opinion, but as intuitionism says, there are objective moral principles and we have an intuitive awareness of moral truths, although sometimes these differ from culture to culture. Francesca Ricci. Theology Essay (Ethics) 21st October, 2003. Meta- Ethics. ...read more.

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