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

What are the strengths and weaknesses of Intuitionism? Evaluate the merits or otherwise of the emotive theory of ethics?

Extracts from this document...


What are the strengths and weaknesses of Intuitionism? Evaluate the merits or otherwise of the emotive theory of ethics? Intuitionism came about as a post-utilitarian perspective, and was largely developed as an ethical theory by Moore, Pritchard and Ross. As the name of the theory tells us it is concerned with humans intuition, Sidgwick came to the conclusion that ethics was not based on a unifying principle but rather on human intuition. Today, an intuitionist is thought of as someone who holds particular views about the way in which we come to find out what actions are right and which are wrong. Apparently, we group basic moral principles because of our 'intuition'. Moral principles are capable of being true and known through a special faculty; 'moral intuition'. W.D. Ross and Pritchard, claimed that they are 'facts' about what is morally right and wrong and that our understanding of these is sufficient to deserve the title 'knowledge'. We know that something is good by intuition: it is self-evident, "good is something known directly by intuitionism"1 G. ...read more.


A weakness of the system is to assume that we can know A because of B. We cannot, in fact, say something is right because we intuit it to be that way. An intuitionist would say that humans only have their moral hunches and intuitions to guide them, so we have to rely on this by default. Unlike the scientific world in the world of morals, an intuitive moral decision is often held to be right because the person feels it to be so. This can be seen as a criticism of intuitionism because moral decisions making is more of an art form that an exact science. The apparent weaknesses of intuitionism could be summed up by saying when asking 'why should I be good?' 'Because you just know you should'. Emotivism, as its name suggests, is the moral theory based on people's emotive responses to other people, events, situations, viewpoints and principles. Emotive response in this context is simply referring to a person's feelings about something. ...read more.


I have to force myself against my feelings, reasoning that her life is sacred, and I have no right to play God. Another problem with the relativism inherent in Emotivism is the difficulty of deciding where to draw the line of tolerance. If a Satanist is preaching hatred or murder as a 'good' thing in his eyes should he be opposed vociferously, or in any other way, or not at all? After all, if he feels the emotion of hatred is the best basis of his moral code; from an emotive-relativist point of view I should do nothing unless he actually harms someone. Moreover, Alasdair McIntyre believes that Emotivism is bankrupt as an ethical theory because it lacks any moral absolutes. According to McIntyre the implications of Emotivism on society would be that social relations become manipulative because each person relates to everyone else morally in terms of their own individual emotions, not in terms of absolute moral values. This leads to people being a means to our own ends, instead of being ends in themselves. 1 H. A. Pritchard, Moral Obligations 2 G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica Thomas Taylor ...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. Analyse and explain the strengths and weaknesses of deontology

    the third formulation of the categorical imperative: "that all maxims which stem from autonomous legislation ought to harmonize with a possible realm of ends as with a realm of nature."- a world in which universal maxims were prescribed by a universal legislator.

  2. Explain what is meant by Moral Relativism. Assess the strengths the weaknesses of situations ...

    It encourages people behave like adults and use their own common sense when making moral decisions. The advantages of situation ethics are that it is easy to understand you follow a single principle. It also gives people responsibility for their own decision making by not treating people like adolescents.

  1. Analyse and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of natural moral law as a definitive ...

    One such writer is Kevin T. Kelly, who in his book 'New directions in Moral Theology' identified two traditions found in Christian morality. One of these is centred upon acts, and the other is centred on the dignity of a human person. Kelly sees both of these strands of morality at work in recent Christian thinking.

  2. Explain Fletcher's theory of Situation Ethics (13) and Assess the strengths and weaknesses of ...

    Thirdly, love and justice are to be equated. The Christian never just has one neighbour; therefore love is supposed to be calculating. Fletcher also implicitly approves of the decision by President Truman of the United States of America (1945)

  1. Business Ethics

    Brook (1989) noted that accountants are always faced with a dilemma - to satisfy the need of their clients or risk loosing them especially if they are asked to ignore some facts which may put their clients in a disadvantageous position.

  2. Explain the strengths and weaknesses of Utilitarianism

    There has also been criticism concerning the democracy inflicted by such a theory. John Rawles says, 'You judge a fair society on the way it looks after its minority not its majority'. This is certainly true to some extent, as if the minority are not accounted for, the society can not reasonably be classed as an equitable one.

  1. Examine what is meant by natural law with reference to morality and analyse and ...

    Both the purpose and the aim explains why the statue is as it is. In the case of the child growing into an adult, the final cause would be the adult that the child grows into. Aristotle also believed that everything had a final 'good' which is achieved by fulfilling the purpose for which it was designed for, i.e.

  2. Natural Moral Law - in theory and in practice.

    by Aquinas, ideas about what is natural have changed due to cultural changes between generations. In society we define what is morally right and natural according to what is culturally acceptable. For example in the past it was not natural to be homosexual or for women and men to be considered as equals however society has changed their views.

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