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Explain what Scholars means when they say ethical statements are no more than expressions of opinion.

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Introduction

Explain what Scholars means when they say ethical statements are no more than expressions of opinion. The study of ethical language is Meta-ethics. When some scholars say that ethical statements are no more than expressions of opinion, they believe that the statements are based on non-cognitive theories. In contrast, others would disagree that ethical statements can be verified by evidence and reason. They are believed to be cognitivists or moral realists. Scholars who are anti-realists believe that ethical statements are no more than expressions of opinion as they are expressing their feelings or telling people what to do. For example, to say 'abortion is wrong' is not a factual statement that can be proved right or wrong. However, cognitivists argue that when saying 'abortion is wrong' they are giving abortion the property of wrongness so the statement is either true or false, making it objective rather than subjective. One theory that is based on non-cognitive ideas is Emotivism. Emotivists agree that ethical statements are no more than expressions of opinion as they believe that ethical statements depend on one's attitudes, upbringings and feelings. In support of this theory according to A.J. Ayer, a philosopher, who argued that unverifiable statements held no philosophical significance, believed that words such as 'right', 'wrong', 'good' or 'bad' were essentially meaningless. ...read more.

Middle

Essentially prescriptivists are writing a law which has a universal quality that should be applied to everyone. Therefore, some scholars claim that moral statements such as 'good', 'ought', or 'right' have a universalizable and prescriptive element within the ethical statement. Although they are no more than expressions of opinion, prescriptivists argue that their views promote principles that everyone should follow in applicable conditions. According to Hare: 'I have been maintaining that the meaning of the word 'ought' and other moral words is such that a person who uses them commits himself thereby to a universal rule.' This means that when an individual uses moral words, such as 'ought', they have committed themselves to a universal rule whereby they are setting laws for themselves in order for people to follow. Both Emotivism and Prescriptivism agree that ethical statements are not just expressions of opinion as these theories believe that statements cannot be verified. However, Emotivism differs from Prescriptivism, as it does not express their views on how to live a moral life, but simply to understand the meaning behind ethical statements. On the other hand, Prescriptivists are not just expressing their views either; they are also prescribing them to others. From this perspective Hare argues that Prescriptivism is superior to all cognitive and non-cognitive theories. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is arguable that this theory is not justified as it serves no real purpose as it is just one's opinions, which others do not need to take account for. In addition, it is questionable that one's intention to stimulate others may be for the wrong reasons; therefore offering a solution that may not be good for others to follow makes this view unjustified. On the other hand Ross offers a solution during conflict and clearly differentiates between the right and good thing to do. This is more reliable to some extent because Ross supports his solutions with examples and logical evidence. On the contrary, it is arguable that the accuracy of Intuitionism is not very reliable as Moore fails to prove or demonstrates his theory for knowing truths by using our intuition. The strengths of prescriptivism are the universal principles available to people. To some degree, these views are justified as it provides common rules for people to follow. The universalizabilty also encourages people to follow one's wishes or desires, because the prescriptive quality benefits not only the individual, but others around them. In addition, people expect their moral statements to have some influence on others. However, Ethical Naturalism would argue that ethical statements are more reliable, as it provides a modern and scientific outlook on ethics, rather than expressing universal prescriptions that aren't truth claims. ...read more.

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