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Explain what scholars mean when they say that ethical statements are no more than expressions of opinion? (33)

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Introduction

Explain what scholars mean when they say that ethical statements are no more than expressions of opinion? (33) Meta-ethicists study the meaning of moral judgements and analyse the reasoning behind ethical systems. They limit themselves to studying the nature of morality and meaning of moral judgements. Meta-ethics concentrate more on the reasoning rather than content of ethical statements. There are four main theories that are used when studying ethical language. Intuitionists claim that morality is self-evident. An intuitions is thought of as someone who holds a particular view about the way in which we come to find out which of our actions are right and wrong. W.D. Ross was one of the main scholars who pioneered this theory. He had been greatly influenced by the earlier work of Moore and Prichard. He argued that what was 'right' and 'obligatory' were just as indefinable as 'good'. Toss defined 'right' as: "...suitable, in a unique and indefinable way which we may express by the phrase 'morally suitable' to the situation in which an individual finds himself" (Foundation of Ethics) He drew a clear distinction between what is right to do and what is good to do. ...read more.

Middle

theory: 'x is wrong' or 'I disagree with x' = 'Boo!' 'x is right' or 'I agree with x' = 'Hurrah!' It can be said that emotivism is merely based on personal opinion rather than a complex moral theory. If all of our behaviour is based on how we feel and out psychological response to things, how often can we be sure of anything? there must be a stronger case for making out ethical decisions that simply approving and disapproving of certain actions. The questions that Emotivism left open spurred on scholars to dig deeper and to study the philosophy of meta-ethics more analytically. The original group of philosophers involved in this were known as the 'Vienna Circle' - founded by M.Schlick, R.Carnap and O.Newrath in the 1920's. In 1929, the Vienna Circle published a paper saying that the main objective was to establish the necessary criteria for talking meaningfully about the world. These meta-ethicists are known as Logical Positivists. Logical Positivism is about establishing the ways in which the truth or falsehood of certain statements can be shown. therefore, if a statement cannot be proved either true or false, it is meaningless. ...read more.

Conclusion

this theory also fails to suggest where our ethics come from. It only states that we pass a judgement and then make a suggestion on what should be done about it. Once again, through prescriptive statements, we've merely expressed a personal opinion rather than a black and white absolute. b) How far do you consider these views can be justified? All of the meta-ethical theories that I have looked at have shown that moral truth is relative. Most, if not all ethical viewpoints are simply personal opinions rather than absolute moral law. Logical Positivism can to a certain extent say whether something is good or bad - depending on whether it has empirical evidence or blatant truth to support it. Even so, a large portion of important ethical statements are discarded as 'meaningless' just because they are not analytical or synthetic. This goes to show that you can never find a way to absolute truth by studying meta-ethics. In a pluralistic society there are bound to be conflicts and overlap when it comes to moral and ethical standards, so I can understand why scholars say that ethical statements are no more than expression of opinion. ...read more.

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