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

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

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Elena Solaro 12E 1. Explain what scholars mean when they say that ethical statements are no more than expressions of opinion. As its name suggests, emotivism is an ethical theory based on people's emotional responses to situations and events in the world around them. However, unlike most moral theories, it is not concerned with 'what is right', and 'what is wrong', instead, emotivism explores the way in which human beings use language to convey what we think is good or bad, right or wrong. In this way, emotivism could be characterised as a moral 'non-theory'. In the nineteen twenties, a group of philosophers, known as the Vienna Circle, were working in Austria, trying to discover how we use language as a means of conveying knowledge. They did not want to know how we gain this knowledge, but simply the method by which we can attempt to explain it. This idea became known 'Logical Positivism', and its fundamental argument was that only propositions or statements which can be verified empirically (using the senses) have meaning. The logical positivists only accepted two types of verifiable language. These were firstly, 'analytic' or 'a priori' propositions. ...read more.

Middle

Hurrah!' In conclusion, according to the logical positivists, establishing language as the means by which the truth or falsehood or certain propositions can be demonstrated is the whole point of philosophy. Strictly speaking, if a statement is neither logical nor empirical, in philosophical terms it must be meaningless. Moral statements, which cannot be proved or disproved must therefore be meaningless, and this is where the logical positivists claimed that morality was little more than a matter of like or dislike, 'boo!' or 'hurrah!' 2. How far do you consider these views to be justified? For the most part, emotivism seems like a fairly straightforward idea: each person devises a set of moral guidelines according to their personal opinions and preferences. But is it really this simple? As with all ethical theories, emotivism has been criticised and hotly disputed for a number of reasons. One of the principle problems with emotivism is that if we accept it to be a correct analysis of moral discourse, then all ethical debate is reduced to little more than hot air. We may provide reasons to support our beliefs until we are blue in the face, but in reality, what we are saying will have absolutely no meaning. ...read more.

Conclusion

If this is the case, why then do we have to live by a set of laws and rules. It is impossible to say that statements like "murder is wrong" are a matter of opinion, because if they were, and our society was divided into a group of people who said "murder-Boo!", and a group who said "murder-Hurrah!", then our current laws would not be able to stay in place. We would live in a totally lawless society, where everyone acted as they pleased, without fear of social or legal constraint. I am sure most people would agree with me in saying that the idea in itself is totally ridiculous. In conclusion, I find the views of emotrivism justified only to a small extent. There are numerous criticisms of emotivism, as I have demonstrated. The theory often neglects to take certain facts into account, which we can provide as evidence to support our claims. It also ignores the fact that as humans, we have some sense of what is morally acceptable, even if it is only slight, and completely unexplainable. Although it is often true that we make moral statements according to our personal opinions, and our own experiences may colour our views somewhat, however, this does not mean that our beliefs are meaningless. The human ability to think and argue rationally renders this impossible. ...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 the main ethical principle of Christianity.

    of people, and therefore killing him brought about the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people. However, even though situation ethics is consistent with utilitarianism, the other frameworks of Christianity are not quite consistent. Natural law states that action must have reason, to aim for good and

  2. Analyse the arguments which philosophers use to claim that ethical language is not meaningful ...

    There is no necessary link between that which is approved of or that which produces pleasure and what is right. It is not contradictory for a man to have approved of what is wrong; furthermore, in the case of utilitarianism, it is clear that to say 'x is right' is not equivalent to saying 'x is pleasant.'

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

    Voluntary euthanasia, by definition, is the intentional killing of a person for euthanasiast reasons, carried out at the request of a person, prompted by the sense that continued existence is no longer worthwhile. Kant argued that suicide was wrong because it would be contrary to the universal duty (or moral law)

  2. Emotivism as an Ethical Theory

    This view is linked to the last feature, the fact that the logical positivist's methods of verification are inadequate when it comes to talking about moral beliefs. All moral statements contain words or phrases that have a cognitive meaning as well as an emotive meaning.

  1. Ethical Criticism of McDonalds

    would provide you with '910 calories, as well as 46g of fat, 13g of which are saturated' (McDonald's.com, 2005). Considering the fact that this is half the Recommended Daily Allowance for a female adult, it is clear that McDonald's does not meet U.S.

  2. Outline the general ethical responsibilities on helping relationships and discuss them with examples from ...

    the greatest good * Non-maleficence - causing least harm * Justice - what is fairest * Respect autonomy - maximising opportunity for all to implement their choices * Law - what is legal Added to these moral principles, is the concept of fidelity.

  1. Explain the ethical responses to abortion

    If the foetus is likely to have a severe mental disability then it is not a potential rational being so the abortion is not contradictory. Natural law would always condemn abortion. One of the primary precepts is to preserve innocent life.

  2. How are religious and ethical principles used in the abortion debate?

    If it is a secondary consequence of a primary intention, abortion can be justified. For example, the removal of the mother's womb in cancer treatment has the primary intention to save her life, but the secondary consequence of terminating the pregnancy.

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